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The Martian Chronicles
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Ray Bradbury Collection > The Martian Chronicles - SPOILERS

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Christine | 1218 comments This thread is for discussion of the specific content of our March 2016 New School Group Read selection, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Feel free to discuss spoilers in this thread.


message 2: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4825 comments Mod
I read this book last December. I'm looking forward to reading what others think.


Philina | 1562 comments I read this last year for my Bingo and am also looking forward to the discussion.
I liked the book very much. Very deep, very philosophical at times.
And the Poe chapter was especially entertaining.


Melanti | 2386 comments This isn't my favorite Bradbury collection, by a long shot!

I think his collections that group his stories by theme do a huge disservice to his work.

Bradbury can be repetitive at the best of times, and having all his similar stories grouped together just highlights that fact. Plus, this is often put forward as a fix-up novel, but the stories just don't fit together in a logical way as a continuous narrative and that really bugs me when he tries to fit them all on a single time line.


message 5: by Sylwia (last edited Mar 06, 2016 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sylwia (sylwialovesloki) | 145 comments I love this book, so thoughtful. Though The October Country is my favorite by Bradbury. Dandelion Wine took me four starts, that was the worst.


message 6: by Maarit (last edited Mar 01, 2016 12:11PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Maarit | 285 comments Me and Bradbury just seem to hate each other. Though I managed to finish this one (Fahrenheit 451 my eternal enemy, four tries given and zero times finished), even if I only rated it two stars. I liked the fact that these were short stories which kinda linked together, but that's about it. I didn't like most of the persons in those stories and also I was bit dissappointed about how outdated some of the things felt, though I know it's written in 1950's but still. So yeah, I think I won't read anymore of his books, even if "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is a cool name for a book, but after two books that were bad/very boring I'm not sure I'd like that one either.


message 7: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
I enjoyed this collection once I resigned myself to accepting each one as completely disconnected from the others. As such I found some more captivating than others. In the first story, I was interested to find that the Martians reacted much as we humans would...peaceful or not, destroy the invaders.


Phil Jensen | 627 comments Sylwia wrote: "I love this book, so thoughtful. Though The October Country is my favorite by Bradbury. Dandelion Wine took me four starts, that was the worst."

I'm glad I'm not alone on October Country. It's his most horror-oriented collection, and I really enjoyed the creepiness. He softened a lot as he got older, and I don't enjoy his later work nearly as much. Martian Chronicles is classic, though. All the other Mars books I'd read before were about war, colonialism, or exploration. Bradbury was a lot more introspective and asked questions about humanity.


message 9: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
With his opening story, I thought we were going to get insight into the Martians themselves and what Bradbury thought they would be like...but, as it turned out this was mostly about the Earthlings, who sadly destroyed anything Martian about Mars.


message 10: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Sara wrote: "With his opening story, I thought we were going to get insight into the Martians themselves and what Bradbury thought they would be like...but, as it turned out this was mostly about the Earthlings..."

Or do they become Martians? What exactly is a Martian? If you live on Mars, does that make you different than other humans? Does the environment change your thought patterns so much that it separates you from Earthlings?


message 11: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
I was thinking in terms of the indigenous life we see in the first story. They are gone almost immediately and the only ones we see are token Martians here and there or those who are trying to pass as humans. I kept thinking about the settling of the American West and how most of the Indian tribes were wiped out in favor of Europeans. One of his themes seems to be destructiveness in man at every level, which of course culminates in the destruction of earth itself.

And, yes, I suppose in a generation or two the men remaining on Mars will be Martians, but will they be any different?


message 12: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments You have a good point about the destructiveness of humans. I focussed more on the ideas of change and adaptability, which give it a more positive spin.

Bradbury probably would have had it both ways. He hated mobs and crowds, but he believed in the individual's capacity for self-realization.


message 13: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
Yes, he does end the collection on a positive note. A family is there (with their sons) starting over and there will be a second family (with girls to make eventual wives). The father destroys the rocket so that they will not be found and here is the opportunity to start over and do it better.


message 14: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (kiwiinhove) | 5 comments Really enjoyed the collection of stories. Laughed out loud on the second landing of explorers. Other stories also hit the Mark with the last one giving hope.


Loretta | 2668 comments I can only say two good things about this book. One: I finally read it and two: I finished it. Other than that, I wasn't impressed, at all.


Paula W | 554 comments I finished this one during lunch today. Overall, I enjoyed it. Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny; some were very deep and made me think for quite a while. I made lots of notes while reading, and here are some of them that I wrote at different points in the collection:
1.) What even did I just read?
2.) Haha no one cares about your penis
3.) Is someone going to explain the masks?
4.) This is like Martian Twilight Zone.
5.) This is my new favorite quote. "For God's sake, what are you doing?" shouted Garrett, rattling about. "I'm being ironic. Don't interrupt a man in the midst of being ironic, it's not polite."
6.) "Only a woman would call and call. A man wouldn't. A man's independent. Did I phone anyone? No! Never thought of it." Maybe that's because you are an idiot, you idiot.
7.) Sigh. Things never change, do they?


message 17: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
Paula wrote: "I finished this one during lunch today. Overall, I enjoyed it. Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny; some were very deep and made me think for quite a while. I made lots of notes while rea..."
Love your reactions, Paula. I can relate.


message 18: by Paula W (last edited Mar 11, 2016 07:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paula W | 554 comments Sara wrote:

Thanks. I knew I wasn't the only one. :)


message 19: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Paula wrote: "4.) This is like Martian Twilight Zone."

That's what Bradbury does best!


Christine | 1218 comments I finished this one yesterday. It was interesting. Some of the stories were quite funny, and some were philosophically intriguing. A few I didn't care for that much.

It was interesting how clearly you can see the issues of the time period the book was written in (during the Cold War). It is also interesting to me how advanced and mainstreamed authors of the early to mid 20th century thought technology would be by now. Certainly, a lot of the predicted technology has come to be, but I don't think your average citizens will be jetting off into space by the year 2030, for example.


message 21: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments Paula wrote: "I finished this one during lunch today. Overall, I enjoyed it. Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny; some were very deep and made me think for quite a while. I made lots of notes while rea..."

Great notes!


message 22: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
Christine wrote: "I finished this one yesterday. It was interesting. Some of the stories were quite funny, and some were philosophically intriguing. A few I didn't care for that much.

It was interesting how clearl..."

I was thinking the same thing about the technology. It hasn't taken the direction that sci-fi writers expected. Space travel is one of those areas that might never get to that level, and I don't think we will have any androids that can be mistaken for real people.


message 23: by Kelly B (last edited Mar 16, 2016 12:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Wow! This book surprised me. Sci-fi can be hit or miss for me (especially the older stuff), so I wasn't sure if I'd like it.

I loved it! I originally planned to take breaks while reading it and pick up something else, but I liked it so much I just kept reading.

The mix of humor and horror in chapter 3 was a nice surprise. I also get a kick out of the story with Walter Gripp, where he imagines himself living out the rest of his life with the only woman left on Mars, only to find out she's quite annoying!

I think my favorite story was the last one. It seemed very fitting to end the book with Earth destroyed, and Mars hopefully being re-populated by better people who wouldn't eventually ruin it.

I thought the House of Usher house chapter was brilliant. That story seemed to lean a bit more into the horror realm.


message 24: by Kelly B (last edited Mar 16, 2016 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I did have one question: in the chapter "The Off Season", why did the Martians give Sam the titles to much of Mars? Was it done ironically, knowing that he'd leave, and return to Earth for the big war? Or they figured they might as well since they didn't really have any land of their own left? Just a big joke on Sam, since no more rockets would be coming with customers for the hot dog stand;-)?


message 25: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
I loved the House of Usher story and found it ridiculously comical. I laughed while visualizing them killing that guy and sending a robot in his place only to find out they hadn't killed him at all but killed a robot he had sent to them.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Sara wrote: " was thinking in terms of the indigenous life we see in the first story. They are gone almost immediately and the only ones we see are token Martians here and there or those who are trying to pass as humans. I kept thinking about the settling of the American West and how most of the Indian tribes were wiped out in favor of Europeans. One of his themes seems to be destructiveness in man at every level, which of course culminates in the destruction of earth itself. "

It seemed like there were many similarities between the Martians and Native Americans. Everything from the Earthlings desecrating the old Martian towns, to most of the Martians dying of diseases caught from the expedition, to the description by Spender of the Martians being more at one with nature.


message 27: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4787 comments Mod
I made that connection too and also thought about the way the indigenous people of Hawaii were affected by the coming of white traders and missionaries. The "more advanced" civilization always seems to bring destruction with it, but often what is lost is more precious than anything that could be gained.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Sara wrote: "I made that connection too and also thought about the way the indigenous people of Hawaii were affected by the coming of white traders and missionaries. The "more advanced" civilization always seem..."

So true!


Paula W | 554 comments Kelly wrote: "I did have one question: in the chapter "The Off Season", why did the Martians give Sam the titles to much of Mars? Was it done ironically, knowing that he'd leave, and return to Earth for the big ..."

I thought about this for a long time. I remember that Sam was the destructive one from the fourth expedition, the one that shot the glass out of the buildings in the abandoned city. He even did it again in this story when he was being followed by the martians. He didn't like Mars because it was Mars and had martians and beautiful things. The value of Mars for him was what it could do for him. He put up an awful hotdog stand so that he could benefit from the new immigrants that were expected soon. But the martians knew that no one was coming and earth was about to implode. What better way to get back at Sam? Give him half of a planet where no one new would arrive and the people already there would leave, making it worthless to someone like Sam.


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Amy Eckert | 113 comments Paula wrote: "I finished this one during lunch today. Overall, I enjoyed it. Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny; some were very deep and made me think for quite a while. I made lots of notes while rea..."

I agree about it seeming like The a Twilight Zone, especially "The Third Expedition", with all the twists and turns. The first story made me really sad. That poor repressed wife and her jerk of a husband. I'm loving this so far.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Paula wrote: "I thought about this for a long time. I remember that Sam was the destructive one from the fourth expedition, the one that shot the glass out of the buildings in the abandoned city. He even did it again in this story when he was being followed by the martians. He didn't like Mars because it was Mars and had martians and beautiful things. The value of Mars for him was what it could do for him. He put up an awful hotdog stand so that he could benefit from the new immigrants that were expected soon. But the martians knew that no one was coming and earth was about to implode. What better way to get back at Sam? Give him half of a planet where no one new would arrive and the people already there would leave, making it worthless to someone like Sam. ."

Thanks Paula! That does make sense.

I liked the descriptions of the Martians in this particular story better than in some of the other stories. In this one, they seemed to be these ethereal, misty, mysterious figures instead of the yellow beings described in a few of the other chapters.


message 32: by Desertorum (last edited Apr 06, 2016 09:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Desertorum I usually dislike scifi and most short story collections as well. But this one I actually did like. The stories were catchy and I saw the linking between them (far better than in Munro collection) and liked how the whole story went on with the short ones. My favourite one was Usher II, so creepy and fun.

I think it was kind of funny how sometimes the time/development was so far behind than it is now and sometimes so far ahead. Shows how hard it is to predict future.


message 33: by MKay (new) - rated it 4 stars

MKay | 277 comments Desertorum wrote: "I usually dislike scifi and most short story collections as well. But this one I actually did like. The stories were catchy and I saw the linking between them (far better than in Munro collection) ..."

Usher II was my favorite, too!


Darren (dazburns) | 1846 comments just to place on record that I did read this last month, but didn't enjoy it as much as most others seem to have.

in my late teens/early 20's I read a lot (and I mean a LOT) of sci-fi including plenty of short stories (I probably even read this, although I don't remember specifically)
these are fairly standard 3 Stars

raised slightly above average by Bradbury's writing which is very good at creating the wistful/melancholy feel that goes with the best stories, so I'd've been tempted to give 3.5 Stars

but I was disappointed with what I saw as tremendous missed opportunities here - mainly the fact that "colonising" Mars seemed to consist of reconstructing small-town America...
also, having everybody immediately return to Earth when war broke out was just bizarre...


Melanti | 2386 comments Darren wrote: "I was disappointed with what I saw as tremendous missed opportunities here - mainly the fact that "colonising" Mars seemed to consist of reconstructing small-town America....."

Isn't nostalgia for "small-town America" the essence of Ray Bradbury, though?

Even when you look at Fahrenheit 451, half of his disdain for television is because it's ruining small town life since every one stays inside watching TV instead of sitting out on their porch chatting with neighbors like they used to.


message 36: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Melanti wrote: "Isn't nostalgia for "small-town America" the essence of Ray Bradbury, though?"

Absolutely. He wrote a whole realistic fiction book about it: Dandelion Wine


message 37: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments In the essay included in my edition of Kindred, it is mentioned that not only was Butler a Bradbury fan, but the story "Way Up In The Air" from Martian Chronicles was the only SF story she read as a child that treated African Americans well. Other stories used tokenism at best.

On another GR thread, I read a number of people trashing Bradbury for some over-defensive remarks he made when challenged over the white maleness of Fahrenheit 451. It's helpful to remember that he was progressive at times, too.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1468 comments Just finished.

I liked the concept of the connected short stories a lot. It balances just between a collection of chronological short stories and chapters in a novel. Are there any other classic books in that format?


Michele | 1008 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "I liked the concept of the connected short stories a lot. It balances just between a collection of chronological short stories and chapters in a novel. Are there any other classic books in that format? "

One that immediately comes to mind is City -- it's excellent, one of my favorites and classic sci fi. Also Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, though (if I recall correctly) each "chunk" is a bit longer than just one story/chapter.


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