The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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Source: Purchased

Bradbury's Mars is a place of hope, dreams and metaphor - of crystal pillars and fossil seas - where a fine dust settles on the great, empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn - first a trickle, then a torrent, rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars...and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.

“I have something to fight for and live for; that makes me a better killer. I've got what amounts to a religion now. It's learning how to breathe all over again. And how to lie in the sun getting a tan, letting the sun work into you. And how to hear music and how to read a book. What does your civilization offer?”

I’m basically a noob when it comes to science fiction. Other than one Sci-fi book I dared (and enjoyed) a few years ago and a sampling of alien creature-features, I haven’t explored much inside this complex genre. Enter a book like this, a classic by an author who has given man several other timeless warnings.

At first I worried it’d be difficult to get into since it seemed too out there, too surreal, but it didn’t take long to grab my interest and shake off my annoyance that the visitors were being given such a hard time. It’s a pet peeve of mine when characters aren’t believed. All made sense soon enough, so have a small amount of patience and all will be rewarded.

When the final page is closed, what echoes and stands out is how beautifully unique this work is. It’s clever and much more layered than it starts. There is not only one central story or one central theme, but a showcase of journeys and stories throughout different ages. As time passes, more worsens and less progresses. Clearly it should be the other way around, but Bradbury’s heart seemed to be in dystopian and twisted futuristic fiction that shows man ruins societies and worlds he tries to improve.

Pacing is no struggle at all once the beginning has eroded away. Each small story that shows a different view and time piece flies by, all leaving an impression without boring me. Sometimes I had to pause between pieces to mentally fathom the emotional jabbing. There is no one larger-than-life lesson or story here, for the pieces are too varied and artistic to come together where it would only fit into one mere puzzle.

I think what impressed me most is how the surreal feel and epic imagery with the talented writing made me picture certain scenes so clearly. The slow movements of the faces and the turning heads with the wine pouring over the lips was downright creepy. The tragic face-changing finale of a particular tragic figure wanting to fit in and be loved is not forgettable. The haunting ending with the reflections – all shiver inducing stuff.

‘The Martian Chronicles’ was such a strange beauty of a book. I shall not forget it. Varied and tragic, clever and haunting, it definitely deserves the classic stamp.

Oh, and how nifty was that mini tribute to Edgar Allen Poe in one of the timelines? May the books never be burned. 

   Book Quotes:

“All down the way the pursued and the pursuing, the dream and the dreamers, the quarry and the hounds. All down the way the sudden revealment, the flash of familiar eyes, the cry of an old, old name. Everyone leaping forward as, like an image reflected from ten thousand mirrors, ten thousand eyes, the running dream came and went, a different face to those ahead, those behind, those yet to be met, those unseen... And here they all are now, at the boat, wanting the dream for their own.”

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