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The Martian Chronicles
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BOOK 20: The Martian Chronicles

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Rachel | 111 comments Mod
Here's the discussion thread for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Discussion day is tomorrow, July 3. Some discussion questions that you can answer if you're so inclined, thank you Hana for the help!

1. Which genre would you classify this book as? Would you recommend it to fans of science fiction?
2. Did you find it to be outdated or timeless? (Referring to both its themes and writing style.)
3. Which short stories did you find the most and least memorable? Were there any that felt out of place? Was there a particular chapter that you wished would have continued or wanted to know more about?
4. Which part struck you most or gave you goosebumps or lingered in your head for a while?
5. Was it "realistic" for every single human in Mars to feel homesick and come back to earth despite the nuclear war?
6. Did you like the structure of this book? Do you think the story would have been more effectively told if the author focused on a single set of characters or used a more traditional format?
7. Have you read other space travel and colonization books? How does this compare?


Rachel | 111 comments Mod
this was an interesting book, and a really hard one for me to rate. i think it’s an important piece of literature and i’m glad to have read it, but it’s not one that’s really going to stay with me, i don’t think.

1. Which genre would you classify this book as? Would you recommend it to fans of science fiction?

i wouldn’t classify this as science fiction. i guess i’d call it speculative fiction? i’m not sure. anyway, that said, i would definitely recommend it to science fiction fans! i think it’s always important to read the Classics in any given genre, and it probably would have been considered science fiction when it was published more than it is now? but even if it’s not strictly in the boundaries of that genre, i do think it’s a really good example of what science fiction can achieve in terms of some of the more ~allegorical elements of the genre. i actually think i would have gotten more out of this if i were a science fiction fan; i think the premise would have appealed to me more and i’d have been more interested in bradbury’s unique approach to these stories.

2. Did you find it to be outdated or timeless? (Referring to both its themes and writing style.)

somehow both. on a thematic level, it was obviously very timeless; colonization and western expansion are still clearly very relevant topics. and i love ray bradbury’s prose. but a lot of the elements felt very dated; the dialogue, the very simplistic description of martian civilization, the casual sexism (it’s a book set in the future but women are still reduced to housewives in literally every story!!!!??). some classics don’t have that ‘dated’ feel at all, but this one did, for me. which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, but i guess it’s important to know a bit about the social climate of the time it was written to fully appreciate it?

3. Which short stories did you find the most and least memorable? Were there any that felt out of place? Was there a particular chapter that you wished would have continued or wanted to know more about?

my favorite story was the ‘night meeting’ one, where the earth guy and the martian meet and don’t know which one is from the future and which one is from the past. one of my complaints about this book is that a lot of the symbolism felt very heavy-handed, but i think this one makes you stop and think and not necessarily come to one certain conclusion.

the story that felt the most out of place to me was the censorship one. aside from it being set on mars, it just really did not feel like it tied in with the rest? i guess the point was to show that fascism on earth that led some people to escape to mars, but all the descriptions of the guests having identical robots just struck me as really strange and somehow the ~tone just didn’t really seem to go with the rest.

4. Which part struck you most or gave you goosebumps or lingered in your head for a while?

the one where the martians posed as their family members and then killed them was probably the creepiest one for me, the tone of it was very eerie and the twist at the end was very disturbing. which i actually liked a lot, i was hoping there would be some more creepy stories like this one.

5. Was it "realistic" for every single human in Mars to feel homesick and come back to earth despite the nuclear war?

i didn’t understand this at all, actually. it’s just like, if i moved to europe, and suddenly all of america went up in flames, why would i want to move back to america?! of course i’d be unspeakably sad for my friends and family who were still there, but what would my going back accomplish? and sure, maybe some people would want to go back, but i have a hard time believing that EVERY SINGLE PERSON on mars would reach the same decision.

6. Did you like the structure of this book? Do you think the story would have been more effectively told if the author focused on a single set of characters or used a more traditional format?

this is the question that i’m really hung up on….. i just don’t know!! like at times i wasn’t satisfied with the structure - when stories are this short it can be difficult for a book to really pull you in…? like you’re just getting settled into a story and then it ends and you put the book down and go do something else. but i also don’t necessarily think it would have worked as a novel…. i guess my conclusion is that i while i wasn’t 100% satisfied with it, a lot of that is just my personal taste, but i do think it was done very well if you’re more invested in this sort of thing?

7. Have you read other space travel and colonization books? How does this compare?

again, i’m not a huge science fiction fan, so i haven’t read a ton. i actually just finished red rising which is also set on mars, which, as i think most of you know, i thought was downright terrible. i definitely preferred the martian chronicles’ approach to the issues of colonization, and i really did like how there were direct links between civilization on earth and on mars, like what led all these people to want to leave their lives on earth for this new world. it wasn’t just a juxtaposition of these two worlds, ray bradbury bridged the gap in a way that i thought was very well done.


Chelsea | 42 comments Mod
I thought this was a pretty solid three stars. I really enjoyed the writing style and I think it was a generally well thought out collection of stories, but I don't think it will stick with me.

1. Which genre would you classify this book as? Would you recommend it to fans of science fiction?
I would definitely have said science-fiction, but I think Rachel's label of speculative fiction also works really well. I would definitely recommend it to sci-fi fans. I think for whatever genre you're interested in, it's usually valuable to read some of the masters of the genre and I think The Martian Chronicles does stand the test of time and is still worth reading.

2. Did you find it to be outdated or timeless? (Referring to both its themes and writing style.)
I think it stands up well, but it's also very clearly a product of its time with nuclear war being a major theme and space exploration in waves, really tipping me off to the fact that it was written during the cold war era. I think the broader themes, particularly expansion are still relevant today though and the story about the women trying to decide whether to go on the rockets and follow men to Mars certainly reminds me of other instances in history. I agree though that some of the societal details, even the women on earth in the year 2003/2034 depending on which edition you read are referred to as drinking a specific drink, fizzes maybe? which is clearly a product of its time, feel very dated as do the roles of women in these short stories.

3. Which short stories did you find the most and least memorable? Were there any that felt out of place? Was there a particular chapter that you wished would have continued or wanted to know more about?
The one that really grabbed me was the reveal that the Martians thought the first expedition were just all insane, that was a really interesting twist I thought. I liked the Night Meeting one as well, and the one about the empty house after the war, with all of the automatic voices crying out the tasks of the typical family and then being silenced. It was interesting to learn (from wikipedia anyway) that some of the stories have been replaced in different editions of the book. I think the one about the last man and woman on Mars was maybe my least favourite.

4. Which part struck you most or gave you goosebumps or lingered in your head for a while?
Definitely the way the Martians used family members of the expedition to lure them into a sense of security and then murdered them. I did find the Poe stories one creepy, even though it was more off the wall and not as realistic, just due to the ease with which he murders and replaces a number of people with robots, and the people looking on watching their friends be murdered and thinking it's just a robot strikes me as a little gruesome. I did find it a little different in tone from the others in general and the censorship theme and idea of there being a book burning is obviously interesting for being the idea that his Fahrenheit 451 explores.

5. Was it "realistic" for every single human in Mars to feel homesick and come back to earth despite the nuclear war?
I think that even taking into account homesickness/loyalty to the people left behind on Earth and having no great ties yet to Mars since they've only been on Mars a few years, and even taking into account the sheep mindset of people who watch their neighbours leave and decide to leave too, it was a stretch that EVERYONE would return to Earth.

6. Did you like the structure of this book? Do you think the story would have been more effectively told if the author focused on a single set of characters or used a more traditional format?I'm torn on this, because I'm really not a short story kind of person, so it does make it harder for me to be engaged when there are these connected but not sequential stories that contain different characters. But I did think it was done well and I don't know that it would have been as effective in this case to follow one set of characters and follow a narrative plotline throughout.

7. Have you read other space travel and colonization books? How does this compare?
Some? I haven't read that much science-fiction recently except for Red Rising (ugh), The Martian, and some of the Vorkosigan saga so my reads haven't been that comparable. The Martian was obviously much more driven by character since it's mostly the story of one man instead of shifting characters, and it featured both more hard science behind how things work and more humour generally than this collection of stories.

Actually, the work I've read that it most reminds me of is Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. Both were written in the 1950s and, in different ways, deal with the future of mankind and the near extinction of humanity in a nuclear war, but Miller uses religion and the idea of humanity building itself back up but questions whether we can learn from our mistakes and change or are doomed to follow the same path of history. It's really interesting to read both of these and get a glimpse of how the cold war mindset must have influenced what was being written.


Hana (hana_banana) | 24 comments 1. Which genre would you classify this book as? Would you recommend it to fans of science fiction?

i think rachel's right in classifying this as more of speculative, than science fiction. scifi still has this "what if" quality to it, like it could still happen, though the possibility is slim, but there still Is. on the other hand, this one has clearly outlasted the premises made during its time. despite that, i would still recommend this to a scifi reader because no scifi reader should skip ray bradbury.

2. Did you find it to be outdated or timeless? (Referring to both its themes and writing style.)

like everyone has said, the themes are pretty timeless. you can easily draw the parrallels to history then and current events now, which i guess it part of why it's a classic. it will, in a way, always be relevant.

3. Which short stories did you find the most and least memorable? Were there any that felt out of place? Was there a particular chapter that you wished would have continued or wanted to know more about?

i'm glad i'm not the only one who enjoyed the man and the martian meeting in the convulging of the past and the present. that was probably the least stressful of all the chapters :D but apart from that reason, i just found it rather nice. friendly martian meeting friendly man--how it could all have been.

not least memorable but one i didn't like was the chapter of the last man and woman. man, i hated that guy. he must have been pretty desperate to find another human contact, but to ditch the girl just because she didn't match his image of "perfect wife" (ok so the lady was a little delusional too but..) was cringey.

4. Which part struck you most or gave you goosebumps or lingered in your head for a while?

the part where everyone was just listening to the message from earth--come home, come home, come home--had me pause a bit. bradbury is one of my favorite authors and i've always found his mantra-like repetitions powerful, so this one struck a cord with me. despite that though...

5. Was it "realistic" for every single human in Mars to feel homesick and come back to earth despite the nuclear war?

i do not think every single human would've went back to earth just because of that message. i understand homesickness, but there are Risks.

6. Did you like the structure of this book? Do you think the story would have been more effectively told if the author focused on a single set of characters or used a more traditional format?

i am also on the fence with this one! i'm usually more drawn to stories that make me care and the way to do that is to create compelling characters that i would be invested in. i do think it's important for a story like this to span generations to satisfy the narrative theme, but the lack of an enduring set of characters (apart from that one captain) makes it difficult to really get into the story.

despite that huge hole though, i think the story was told very clearly; the morale and message were there, we all know what it's alluding to, so i guess in that respect, ray bradbury succeeded.

7. Have you read other space travel and colonization books? How does this compare?

i kind of got the feeling that i would be the only one who'd read a lot of scifi in this group :) from the space exploration novels i've read,i think this one is most similar to the foundation trilogy, which also doesn't follow a particular set of characters (for the most part) and instead tells the history of space culture and academia through a series of snippets. but while foundation's plot is infinitely more complex, the martian chronicles succeeds more in invoking that ill feeling of intruding into a culture and questioning your right to be there.


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