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on 27 January 2012
"It is good to renew one's wonder," said the philosopher.
"Space travel has again made children of us all."

Science Fiction isn't something that I read regularly- in fact I have probably only ever read a handful of books from this genre in my life so far.
However, this book has been on my TBR pile for some time now. This is because I remember the 1970's TV adaptation starring Rock Hudson from when I was a child. The story fascinated me a great deal and I watched it several times, but it was many years before I realised that it was an adaptation of a book.

The book was written in 1950 by American author Ray Bradbury who was responsible for other classics such as The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The blurb says
The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity's repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. Those few who survived found no welcome on Mars. But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more. People brought their old prejudices with them-and their desires and fantasies and tainted dreams.
The book is written as a series of short stories linked together by the common theme of man's exploration to and eventual colonisation of Mars.
The stories are set in the future (from Ray Bradbury's perspective,obviously) beginning in 1999 and are told from both the point of view of the human interlopers and The Martians. They contain a mixture of sympathy for the Martians and distaste for the way that the human invaders treat the planet. Having destroyed Earth with their greed and wars, they seem destined to make the same mistakes all over again.

Being a budding writer myself, I am always interested to know where an author gets his/her inspiration. In an interview, Bradbury said that he was inspired to write the book when as a 12 year old boy he saw photographs of the planet Mars and Schiaparelli's drawings of the canals on Mars. He also said that he read The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs as a boy but couldn't afford to buy the sequel and so he wrote The Martian Chronicles to fill this gap.

I enjoyed all of the stories but my favourites are 'The Third Expedition' which is sinister and and 'The Martian' which gave me shivers down my spine as I read it.'The Martian' begins with an elderly couple, LaFarge and Anna, who live in a remote area of Mars. It is a windy and rainy night and they have just gone to bed when they hear a noise.

He put on his robe and walked through the house to the front door. Hesitating he pulled the door wide, and rain fell cold upon his face.The wind blew.
In the dooryard stood a small figure.
Lightning cracked the sky, and a white wash of colour illumined the face looking in at old LaFarge there in the doorway.
"Who's there?" called LaFarge, trembling.
No answer.
"Who is it? What do you want?"
Still not a word.

I love the simplicity of the prose which nevertheless builds suspense and spookiness. It flows along and you find yourself drawn into an alien world of craters and barren landscapes.

I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to anyone, even those who do not usually read this genre. I have given it a mark of 5/5 and will be adding it to my favourite books of all time.
The only downside of this is I absolutely have to read his other books and so have now added t his entire catalogue of works to my TBR pile! Will it ever get any smaller? Sigh :)
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on 5 April 2002
The Martian Chronicles has stood up well to the test of time. The issues it deals with such as war and human angst are as relevant today as they ever were. I'd read the first 100 pages before I even realised what time it was! I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys not only science fiction, but also to anyone who enjoys reading a book that will make them think. It's a good read although sometimes Bradbury's observations into human nature will have you squirming uncomfortably.
Be warned, don't start to read this late at night, it'll be early morning before you put it down.
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2002
The Martian Chronicles is a genre classic that details mankind's numerous attempts to colonise the red planet. From the outset, you are drawn into Ray Bradbury's charming yet heartbreaking allegory of the conquest of the New World. As in the historical Americas, many of Mars' native inhabitants succumb to the diseases brought by the human settlers, who themselves fall prey to their own greed and loneliness. These stories are both beautiful and tragic and I defy anyone not to be quietly moved by 'The Martian', a wonderful tale of love and loss. Bradbury has the uncanny ability to reach into your chest and play with your heart.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 November 2012
First published as The Silver Locusts, this is a collection of short stories about a fleet of locust-like spaceships leaving Earth to settle Mars. In this world the Martian air is just about breathable but thin, and the first astronauts find abandoned city after city with water rippling through canals. They start to see ghosts and gradually we find that there are some living Martians, though perhaps they live only as memories.
But Earth is too crowded and people come to settle, bringing juke joints, small homes and beauty parlours - recreating small town America which was Bradbury's home. In one story, the war on Earth escalates and strangely most Mars settlers think they should return - not a great idea when war means nuclear war. A young man left alone decides to find a young woman if one is left, and rings every beauty parlour until he finds one. (This female would have been out securing food.) But his idea doesn't seem so great after a while and he leaves her, stumbling onto a couple of females who are actually androids built by a nutty professor, not that he knows that.
Other stories such as Billion Year Picnic at the end tell of a family exploring Mars looking for a city to settle in, knowing that now there is no going back to a devastated Earth and they have become the Martians for real.
One or two of Bradbury's stories were omitted from the collection, such as the tale of the ship full of coloured people who left homes in America for a better future, but most of them are more social comment than hard science, a warning that the future of humanity may depend on our ability to leave this planet and a query as to what we will bring and build.
Because this was never hard SF it has not dated, so read it as a fantasy or allegory and enjoy.
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on 26 January 2014
I read this first as a second hand paperback edition still titled, the Silver Locusts. Very happy to return to it. If you have not read it before, it's worth noting that isn't a novel as such. All the stories are Mars based at different periods of the imagined contact with Mars and it's inhabitants.From first landing to colonisation, to abandonment. For me, it's an examination of the human condition seen from different perspectives and because of this, it doesn't matter that we all know life, at least as envisioned here, has never existed on Mars. It could be any planet and the stories would still stand. Bradbury's writing style feels understated but engaging. Always a pleasure to read. Recommend, even if sci-fi isn't your thing.
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on 12 January 2016
I want to say that my copy is a 1980s version of the original book which matters- more on that later.

I first read TMC as a freshman in college as part of a Sci Fi Lit course and was absolutely blown away by it. There is always some trepidation in revisiting these old favorites but I think that I actually appreciate it more now. The science was a little dated even when I read it but I’ve never had a problem with that- it is fiction, after all. Just think of it as happening in an alternate universe :) Sci fi was new to me back then and I think that overshadowed everything else is that is wonderful about this book. Reading it now, I’m entranced by the beautiful writing and the deeply human stories. It’s rare now for me to find writing that seems both beautiful and completely effortless. But most striking is the stories. The setting may be Mars but whether touching on jealousy, arrogance or racism, they are insightful, moving and absolutely accurate. I think that even those who don’t normally read sci fi but love great short stories can appreciate “The Martian Chronicles”.

A bit of a rant here- in 1997 they started re-issuing TMC with changes. First, they added thirty years to the chapter title dates. The original 1999 to 2026 became 2030 to 2057. This is annoying not only because the publisher was assuming our minds aren’t flexible enough to deal with a book written in the 40s/50s but also because it seems pointless- there are dozens of other things in the stories that aren’t going to line up with a modern timeline. So what was the point? In addition, while they added the story “The Fire Balloons” (also in “The Illustrated Man”) they replaced “The Way In the Middle of the Air”- a story of racism- with the inferior (to me) “The Wilderness”. I’ve never seen the original story in any other collection. So I would definitely recommend trying to find a pre-1997 version.
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on 31 July 2012
I have to admit that I came to Ray Bradbury very late, in fact only because I read his obituary. There, like in so many comments, he was described as one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time but The Martian Chronicles is no such thing. Therefore, anyone inclined towards the Philip K. Dicks or Isaac Asimovs of the writing world might be disappointed.
Mars and interplanetary travel really are just backdrops or plot tools. The author never even touches on technical details and apart from rockets everything else he uses to furnish his story is reliably mid-twentieth century American stuff, from wooden houses to food. What the book is about is mankind's tendency to blight its achievements by prejudice, destructiveness and the undying believe that we are the best thing that's ever happened to this universe (despite all the examples to the contrary). Don't forget, this was written in 1950 with the horrors of the Second World War and Hiroshima/Nagasaki still very vividly on everyone's mind. Consequently, nuclear armament and annihilation are the prominent drivers of the story in the background.
Bradbury's poetic language sometimes runs away with him but make no mistake, this is an utterly compelling read. No wonder it has become a classic. Just forget everything you know today about life on Mars and immerse yourself in a mesmerising analysis of human nature.
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on 3 April 2013
This is an absolutely splendid work, which is dated in its science and outlook, but none the worse for that: it's an insight into the worldview of its time, written in a hauntingly beautiful style.

Unfortunately the long-awaited kindle edition is a shoddy effort, which has clearly not been proofread at all. Bradbury was very suspicious of ebooks, and this typo-ridden version of his gem is a travesty which shows that he had a point.
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on 16 July 2001
Ray Bradbury wrote a lot of short stories set on Mars. 'The Martian Chronicles' collects most of them together in one book, arranged so as to form a loose story which, in typical Bradbury style, is actually about America, and not Mars at all. Bradbury is a writer first and a sci-fi writer second, and if you're expecting endless descriptions of nuclear propulsion you probably won't like this book. Because of this, it's one of the few sci-fi books from the period that hasn't dated. It's also one of the ultimate downers, but in a good way - the general tone is one of loneliness and despair, without being doomy. It's a shame that, judging by the lack of reviews, this book is so obscure nowadays, especially compared to his contemporaries Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, neither of whom have produced anything which has aged as well.
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on 3 July 2013
I first read this book when it was originally published in the UK as "The Silver Locusts". I have since read it many times, and in many different editions because, oddly, Ray Bradbury and/or his publishers altered the content of the book several times. The main stories telling of Earth's invasion of Mars are always there but the side line stories vary. I have about half a dozen 'comfort reads' that I return to time and again, and this is one of them.
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