Review of ‘The Martian Chronicles’ by Ray Bradbury

Also known as The Silver Locusts, this is a fabulous short story collection with a similar tone to The Illustrated Man. The contents can vary; the edition I read this time is by Harper, 2008.

The stories are presented in chronological order from 1999 to 2026. They follow the relationship between Earth and Mars, from the first expeditions (foiled by the ungrateful Martian natives), frontier towns and missionaries, to colonisation after the Martians are decimated by a virus, to the abandonment of Mars when everyone goes back to an Earth on the brink of nuclear war. Eventually a handful of survivors return and civilisation on Mars will restart.

Although the collection was published in 1950 (some stories were previously published before that), it’s not terribly dated as other science fiction authors can be. The content does show its age in the separation of men’s and women’s roles and in its preoccupation with atomic weapons. One of the stories deals with racism and inequality in the American south, very bold at the time of publication.

The trademark lyrical dreamy content of Ray Bradbury’s style pushes these stories more into fantasy than science fiction. Compared to the early stories of Arthur C Clarke, for example, there isn’t much science. It feels like a commentary on colonialism and the state of postwar America, more than a prediction of the future.

2 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Martian Chronicles’ by Ray Bradbury”

  1. I think I read this in school, but I don’t remember much about it. I still have my copy from back then. I wonder if I should try to read it now…

    1. That’s interesting to know. I first read it when I was about 12, I think. It’s definitely worth another read!

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