Q1 Benchmark: Book Review for The Martian Chronicles

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Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 12.36.58 PM

Above is my alternate cover to the novel The Martian Chronicles. I decided to do it from the point of view of the Americans before they're even able to travel to Mars, when it's just an idea that some can't even fathom, and when it's finally a dream that's able to come true, the sky becomes a little brighter. 

Jaime Christmas

D Band 

Book Review 

Ray Bradbury’s novel The Martian Chronicles was inspired by some of his favorite writers, including L. Frank Baum, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. As he was growing up he spent 3 days a week for 10 years in libraries, investing his time there immensely because he didn’t have the funds to attend college, for he was growing up during the time of the Great Depression. Being a fan of magicians and adventure as a child, sheds light on his style and genre of writing, which he described as “not science fiction, but a piece of fantasy, the depiction of something unreal”. Other pieces of work by Ray Bradbury include, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Dark Carnival, a series of short stories. He later went on to win the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. 

The Martian Chronicles was more than just a story of martians and space exploration but the analysis of man kind and human nature. The novel is set on Earth and Mars, starting in 1999 and ending in 2026. It begins with various expeditions to Mars, which all end in peculiar and mysterious ways. Soon after all of the expeditions prove to fail, people being migrating to Mars looking for work or a better life, because it’s almost like being “halfway to heaven”. They’ve learned that they can completely reconstruct their entire existence with a simple one way trip. As more people arrive on Mars and embark on colonizing different parts and turning it into essentially, a second Earth, Mars starts to lose its values that it once had when the original Martians inhabited the land. Ray Bradbury tackles the idea of mankind with such brutal honesty by showing how destructive humans can be when it comes to their personal comfort levels. He cleverly displays the act of the Earthlings going to these extreme lengths to move their entire lives millions of miles away to create exactly what was on their previous home. This makes you wonder why they would even leave in the first place. If they basically recreated what they already had, whats the point? Well, the two paragraph segment that separates the book in two sections, space expeditions and immigrators, explains it all. It states how everyone is leaving something behind on Earth and looking to replace with something grander on Mars. These men were experiencing what is known as “the Loneliness” which occurs when you finally realize that you’re most likely never to return what you no longer call home. Ray Bradbury makes this connection with his own life because, even he was born in a small town in Illinois. He goes on to discuss how even though the numbers of the men traveling grew, it was understandable for the first men to be traveling to slightly frightened because “There was comfort in numbers. But the first Lonely Ones had to stand by themselves...”. I had never experienced such vivid descriptive writing until I encountered this one chapter in this novel. Even though it was in the middle of the book, it tied together everything that had happened and everything that was to come. There are magnificent sections in the book where the writing certainly makes you question and really consider  who we are as a human race, but in spite these significant ideas there are a couple of gray areas where you wonder how it ties in. An example would be when they’re in America during June 2003, set in an incredibly racist town somewhere in the south. I was obviously confused why this town seemed so underdeveloped compared to the rest of America in 2003, and why a man who was an employer of a couple of young African American men could blatantly say the N word. Usually I would just pass it off to them being apart of their time, but that was just not the case here. I think because Ray Bradbury was writing this from his perspective during the 50’s that had some influence on his writing but it was kind of sad to see how he perceived our country would look in 50 years. There was absolutely no growth in his eyes, and that was slightly disappointing. 

Although there is a lot of adventure and excitement in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, it’s not the upbeat, one shot that some may be looking for. It’s a constant build throughout the entire novel. Every chapter is about a different person; it’s a different story from a different perspective following the same path, slowly completing the tale. I would recommend this book to people who are more focused on the actual people themselves. What their motives are and what influenced their personalities and decisions. This book would be great for anyone who’s looking at the more philosophical side of things, because when considering mankind as a whole, there’s a lot that has to be taken into consideration. 

All and all, The Martian Chronicles had everything I wanted in a book, and I would read it a thousand times over, but since I don’t have the time to do that, I’ll let my peers discover the secrets and fears that lie within this novel. 

Book Information: 

Title: The Martian Chronicles

Author: Ray Bradbury 

Publisher: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

 Date of Publication: May 1950

Number of Pages: 181

Genre: Science Fiction