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The Martian Chronicles
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Group Reads 2018 > August group read - The Martian Chronicles

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message 1: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1092 comments This is to discuss August's group read - The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.


Latoya  | 32 comments I'm in! Its a short read and my first Bradbury.

I tried Fahrenheit 451 and wasn't crazy about it. Maybe I will try it again later.


Michael | 44 comments I read this many years ago as a teen and remember not enjoying it too much. I'm curious to see if a re-read at this point changes my opinion of the stories?


message 4: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1092 comments I read this a couple of years ago and I really liked it. It's quite light weight as sci-fi goes but the stories are quite fun and some are very amusing. If I have time I will try to read it again this month.


Buck (spectru) | 899 comments I read this many years ago, and it didn't grab me. I reread it a few years ago, and it still didn't grab me. It was the first (and second) Ray Bradbury I had read. I have since read more of his non-SF books, and have enjoyed them. Bradbury is widely known as a science fiction writer, but his science fiction, at least in The Martian Chronicle, is soft science fiction. You may enjoy it more if you read it for the writing, rather than for the science fiction.


The Scribbling Man (thescribblingman) | 137 comments I've been inactive for a while, but am looking forward to getting involved in group reads again!

I bought this on a whim not too long ago, so I'm glad I've got an excuse to read it. I may not have ever gotten around to it otherwise.

I've had a bit of a love hate relationship with Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 was my first read, and I quite enjoyed it, but then I was extremely put off when I read Something Wicked This Way Comes which I thought was terrible. The plot was dark, bizarre and nonsensical, and the writing was beyond pretentious. I had a similar issue with some short stories of his I read, though I did find some gems.

Looks like we had quite a few good books on the poll this month. If I'm not too late in finishing this then I might read some of the runner-ups.


message 7: by CS (new) - rated it 4 stars

CS Barron I started this book last night, and I'm just less than halfway through. I think it's worth reading. It's early Bradbury, predating The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451, a melange of stories trying to do different things. Don't expect the cohesion or buildup of a mature novel here.

I'm amused by these stories so far. Bradbury is indulging in dark comedy and social commentary about vapid suburban living of the 1950s, and more seriously, the destruction of aboriginal cultures by colonizers. Corny tales of early sci fi have aliens landing on earth and saying to people, "take me to your leader." With an eye for satire, Bradbury has flipped that model around in his first two stories here. His characterization of the telepathic Martians also seems original for its time: it's a sophisticated idea about creating virtual realities, not merely being clairvoyant.

I should finish this book in a couple days or so.


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I'll try to get to this in a few days after the comments here. My experiences with it have been like Buck's. Maybe it will fare better as an audio book.


message 9: by Buck (last edited Aug 06, 2016 08:00AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Jim wrote: "I'll try to get to this in a few days after the comments here. My experiences with it have been like Buck's. Maybe it will fare better as an audio book."

Bradbury has a particular style, occasionally reminds me of Steinbeck. If you are familiar with it and like it, the audio book of The Martian Chronicles read by the author really brings out this style, but really Bradbury is not as good a reader as some professional voice actors. I would say, if you aren't already enamored of Bradbury's writing, read an audio book not read by the author.


message 10: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
Thanks, Buck. I've listened to some of his short stories introduced or read by him, but it's been a while. I don't recall hating or loving his reading. I'll look for a different edition since the narrator can make or break a book. I can only take Ellison's raspy overacting voice in short doses. I really like Gaiman's voice, but he often whispers which gets frustrating.


message 11: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil J | 100 comments I loved this book intensely when I read it many years ago. I'm always surprised when other people don't connect with it. Maybe I should reread it.

Bradbury is definitely soft SF. His writing is about being human- what it means to be human and how that changes in different situations. I remember The Martian Chronicles as having a wistful time passes feel to it, as people change when they get to Mars, and as the Martians change when the humans get there.


Donna Rae Jones | 99 comments Some very interesting comments here. This is my first Bradbury (I know, for shame!) and I love the writing, the satire ... even laughed at such gems as: " 'Maybe we could go out and come in again,' said one of the men in a dreary voice [after receiving no welcome on Mars]. 'Maybe we should take off and land again. Give them time to organize a party.' "

Yes, the sci-fi is soft, but it's so human ...


message 13: by CS (new) - rated it 4 stars

CS Barron Donna Rae wrote: "Yes, the sci-fi is soft, but it's so human..."

Agree. I don't apologize for "soft" sci fi that focuses on the human condition, and often the expressive quality of the writing as well. I seek it out. Satire and social mirroring are an important tradition in sci fi. The best literary fiction focuses on the human condition and creative writing. What's not to like?


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

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
Bradbury uses as much or as little of any genre as he needs as a vehicle for his story. I don't see anything wrong with that. Zelazny did the same thing & he's probably my favorite author. The blend of SF & fantasy is often far more appealing on an emotional level, if not a completely logical one. We're a complex blend of both, though.


Michael | 44 comments I just finished the story "Ylla". I'd forgotten the... poetic way Bradbury describes Martian life and culture. He very effectively portals an almost dream like and alien lifestyle. Yet, at the same time his Martians feel very human in their personalities and emotions. A curious mixture of alien and familiar.


The Scribbling Man (thescribblingman) | 137 comments I'm part way through "The 3rd Expedition". It hasn't captured me, but it's very readable.

You can tell it's an early work of his because his style isn't very developed. This is good because it means he hasn't yet gone gunho on pretentious description (as of yet), but bad in that it doesn't flow quite as well as it feels like it should.


message 17: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil J | 100 comments Joel wrote: "I'm part way through "The 3rd Expedition". It hasn't captured me, but it's very readable.

You can tell it's an early work of his because his style isn't very developed. This is good because it me..."


When he got older, he went in more for the human interest type stuff. By the time he wrote I Sing the Body Electric! & Other Stories a lot of the stories weren't even sci fi. I respect him for following his muse, but I preferred the earlier, edgier stuff like The Illustrated Man.


message 18: by The Scribbling Man (last edited Aug 09, 2016 01:54AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

The Scribbling Man (thescribblingman) | 137 comments Just finished "And The Moon Be Still As Bright". Not keen. I really dislike the whole pensive inner monologue thing, especially when it ends up being a commentary on how destructive humans can be.

I haven't read The Illustrated Man, but I have read S Is For Space which has a few of the same stories. I remember quite enjoying "The Man" and "Zero Hour". There was a Martian related story I liked called "Dark they were, with Golden Eyes" which I also remember liking, but it doesn't seem to be included in the Martian Chronicles.


message 19: by CS (new) - rated it 4 stars

CS Barron I liked this book more than I thought I would. The stories are amusing and entertaining on one level, but Bradbury hits on some deep and sorrowful themes here. 4 stars. My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Michael | 44 comments In the end, it was an interesting reread for me. I definitely reacted to it differently than I did several decades ago when I first read it as a teen. It will never be one of my favorites but very readable and even enjoyable in its own way.


The Scribbling Man (thescribblingman) | 137 comments Just finished The Martian Chronicles. Will probably post a review over the next few days, but I'm travelling all day so may give End of Eternity a read as it was runner up.


message 22: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I finally got a copy from the library. Hard to believe there is such a waiting list for this - 4 people were ahead of me. I meant to start it next, but it wasn't on my MP3 player when I finished my last book while out mowing, so I started a different one. Hopefully I'll get to it this weekend.


Latoya  | 32 comments Just started today. I like it so far pretty funny beginning!


message 24: by Latoya (last edited Aug 13, 2016 03:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Latoya  | 32 comments Oh NOOO didn't expect that. :(

Part 4 2032, WTH!


message 25: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I'm a few stories in & it's OK. On their own, both the first & second expedition stories were good & excellent, respectively. Together, they don't hang together logically which Bradbury is asking me to do in the 3d expedition story. I think 2 & 3 hang together, IIRC. I'm not finished with the 3d one yet, though.


Latoya  | 32 comments Very poetic and pro green party :).


message 27: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I just listened to The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I've read it a couple of times before, but it's been many years - at least a couple of decades. I liked it better this time in part because I listened to it. I think Bradbury is meant to be read aloud. I gave it 4 stars in my review here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

As I point out in my review, the audio edition had "November 2002 - The Fire Balloons". This replaced "April 2005 - Usher II" in some editions. Unfortunate, IMO. They're both great stories. The first is possibly the best religious story I've ever read while the second speaks of the banning of fantasy along with the burning of books. I also like what happens to the worst of the book burners. (I reread it in my paperback edition for the occasion.) It definitely contains some roots of "Fahrenheit 451".


message 28: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil J | 100 comments Jim wrote: "I just listened to The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I've read it a couple of times before, but it's been many years - at least a couple of decades. I liked it bett..."

The wiki article on which editions contain which stories is baffling. And I think none of them contain, "Dark the were and golden eyed," which is his most famous Martian story.


message 29: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I checked out the Wikipedia page.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mar...
You're right, the way the article is written is confusing. "Naming of Names" is a very brief interlude in the book. Seems as if the paragraphs were cribbed from "Dark They Were & Golden-eyed".

I vaguely recalled that story - too vaguely - so I looked it up. I found it here:
http://www.olgcnj.org/school/files/20...
& read it.

I'm rather glad it was left out since it doesn't really fit with the others logically. It's worse than "Ylla" in that way since it has a lot of things different. Good story, though. Thanks for bringing it up.


Latoya  | 32 comments Wow very relevant today, which is just sad. Humans will never learn.

I want to add Bradbury is a poet, and reading his work may not translate well today or if you don't like poetry that tears apart human frailty and imperfections.


The Scribbling Man (thescribblingman) | 137 comments Hi guys,

I finished the Martian Chronicles about a week ago, but I haven't been very well so only just got round to posting a review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

From what I can gather most of you enjoyed it, so I apologise in advance for the rant!

I also finished reading The End Of Eternity yesterday, which tied as this months runner-up along with The Demolished Man. If you've finished the Martian Chronicles and haven't read it before, then I'd recommend it. It's flawed, but very enjoyable.


message 32: by Buck (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Joel wrote: "Hi guys,

I finished the Martian Chronicles about a week ago, but I haven't been very well so only just got round to posting a review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

From what ..."


Joel, if I had read your review right after my re-read of The Martian Chronicles a few years ago, I would have completely agreed with you, though perhaps not so vehemently. I do agree completely with your comparison of 451 to 1984. 1984 is a favorite book of mine and I've never thought of it as science fiction. The Martian Chronicles isn't science fiction either. The Illustrated Man is in the same non-genre. I guess the appropriate industry label would be soft science fiction.

I rather enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes, and I've read more of Bradbury's non-science fiction and I came to appreciate him more than I did after reading his so-called science fiction works.. I would never think of Bradbury as 'King of Science Fiction.' But if you think of him as a prose artist rather than a science fiction author, it makes his science fiction more palatable. By prose artist, I mean that you may or may not like it, as with any art, but it is art.


message 33: by Leo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Leo | 630 comments Finished the Martian Chronicles in my holiday, but it didn't work for me. There was just too little of a storyline in the stories. Liked Fahrenheit 451 better.


The Scribbling Man (thescribblingman) | 137 comments I'd like to read Fahrenheit 451 again at some point. It was my first Bradbury, and I remember it carrying a fairly different tone to his other stuff.


message 35: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I've always thought Fahrenheit 451 was very SF. It did exactly what a good SF novel should do & took out current trends to a crazy limit to show something about the human condition. It had a lot of neat tech in it, too.
- Biometrics: Montag comes home & sticks his hand in the glove on his door & it recognizes him. This at a time when they didn't even have paper shredders.
- Ear shells that constantly blast entertainment into his wife's head. iPod anyone?
- TV screens that cover the walls & inane programs that are more important than real life since they also allow user input.
- Montag's run is eerily familiar to King's "The Running Man" & 'reality' TV.
- Short wars that no one understands a thing about.
- A presidential race decided on which candidate looked & sounded better.


message 36: by Donna Rae (last edited Aug 22, 2016 04:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Donna Rae Jones | 99 comments Jim wrote: "I've always thought Fahrenheit 451 was very SF. It did exactly what a good SF novel should do & took out current trends to a crazy limit to show something about the human condition...."

That all sounds hugely relevant to today's society, Jim. Must admit, The Martian Chronicles is my first Bradbury, and I absolutely loved the beauty of its writing - simple, humanistic - it didn't matter whether any of it was scientifically possible because it had a fairy tale quality to it anyway. I certainly plan to read Fahrenheit 451 at some point, especially after what has just been mentioned.


message 37: by Buck (last edited Aug 22, 2016 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Jim wrote: "I've always thought Fahrenheit 451 was very SF. It did exactly what a good SF novel should do & took out current trends to a crazy limit to show something about the human condition...."

Good points, Jim. But I still stand by my opinion that 1984 isn't really science fiction, or only loosely so. Near-future dystopias are always placed in the SF genre.


message 38: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
It's been a while since I last read 1984, but I agree with you on both counts. I don't recall any new tech, just an invasive amount of current tech, taken to extremes in a totalitarian gov't which Orwell had existing examples to choose from. It was social commentary/warning more along the lines of Animal Farm. On my shelves, I put both on the classic & fiction shelves & I have the former on the SF shelf. The latter is just fiction, though.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 144 comments I started it today. It's quite a very strange book.


Rosemarie | 496 comments I liked some of the stories better than others- but did find the progress of the stories interesting.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 144 comments Great! I will keep reading it.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 144 comments I was completely wrong. It is not strange, it is wonderful. I loved the House of Usher episode. And I felt odd about the blacks' episode. It was written in 1950's but it's so obsolete even to that time, I guess. Specially because it should be at 2000's. Or it is not? I am not american and I never was there, so this can explain my sensation? I have not finished it yet.


message 43: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil J | 100 comments Joel wrote: "I was extremely put off when I read Something Wicked This Way Comes which I thought was terrible. The plot was dark, bizarre and nonsensical, and the writing was beyond pretentious."

Thanks. I've always felt conflicted about that one- it's a supposed classic by an author I love, but I struggled to get into it. I actually preferred the Jason Robards movie.

I also don't get the appeal of The Halloween Tree, but I love pretty much everything else by Bradbury, especially the darker stuff he wrote early in his career.


message 44: by Buck (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Phil wrote: "Joel wrote: "I was extremely put off when I read Something Wicked This Way Comes which I thought was terrible. The plot was dark, bizarre and nonsensical, and the writing was beyond pretentious."

Thanks. I've always felt conflicted about that one- it's a supposed classic by an author I love, but I struggled to get into it. I actually preferred the Jason Robards movie."


Something Wicked This Way Comes is my favorite Bradbury.
Different strokes for different folks,


message 45: by Rafael (last edited Nov 05, 2018 12:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 144 comments I finished it. What a great book! I read that at the time readers complained because, according to them, Bradbury wrote the black characters as good ones and the white characters as bad ones. There were another black characters but the ones in the chapter "Floating in the space"(this is the literal translation from the portuguese version)? If there were I missed them characterized as such. Even If there's some I don't see the reason to complain about it. In that chapter there's a reason to this dichotomy.


message 46: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2071 comments Mod
Rafael wrote: "I was completely wrong. It is not strange, it is wonderful. I loved the House of Usher episode. And I felt odd about the blacks' episode. It was written in 1950's but it's so obsolete even to that time ..."

Racism exists in all times and places, I guess, but what was described in that story (English title "Way in the Middle of the Air") felt very true-to-life for 1950's or 60's Mississippi or Alabama. If I remember correctly, in that story the white guys are incapable of understanding why the black people are not happy with the way they are treated. LOL. Maybe if you would stop lynching them, that might help lift their spirits.

I was introduced to this book in probably 8th grade. The teacher loved it, but I didn't. It didn't feel enough like SF to me. I mean, we already knew that there were no canals on Mars, or Martian cities. So it seemed silly to me.

I re-read it as an adult and had a very different reaction. Liked it very, very much. And appreciate the poetic style.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 144 comments Ed wrote: "If I remember correctly, in that story the white guys are incapable of understanding why the black people are not happy with the way they are treated. LOL. Maybe if you would stop lynching them, that might help lift their spirits."

hahaha Yeah. If I remember one of them says: "why they are leaving? Each day they have more and more rights."

Wow! Living like kings. I don't know a lot about the South in these days. These state of affairs was normal in the North or it is supposed to be in the South?


message 48: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4252 comments Mod
I guess it's easy for folks to get the idea that the US is one country, but we're really a huge squabbling bunch who don't have very much in common. It's caused all sorts of problems & is causing more all the time. About half our population live in cities (tending Left) while the other half are in rural areas (tending Right). That means completely different needs & views for things.

It's also a big country. Germany is smaller than 3 of our continental states (Texas, California, & Montana). Anyone can drive or move between them at any time & many do. They range from desert to rain forest, hot to cold, flat to mountainous, & everything in between, so a lot of different needs & ways of looking at things, so the 'America' you see on the news probably varies considerably from the reality.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 144 comments I do understand. Brazil is as big as US.


message 50: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2071 comments Mod
Rafael wrote: "These state of affairs was normal in the North or it is supposed to be in the South?"

The story is definitely in the South. Black/White relations were (still are) different in the North, though not always better. You were more likely to find "sundown towns" (towns where Black people were not allowed at night) in the North, for instance, and Oregon was explicitly founded as a Whites-only territory.

Anyhow, here is an interesting article about this story, pointing out that we never find out what happened to the Black characters after they left Earth. One not-published story had them accidentally go to Venus instead.

https://nevalalee.wordpress.com/2016/...

This Bradbury story has parallels with "The Women That Men Don't See" by James Tiptree. In that story, men are shocked to discover that some women would rather run off to an uncertain destination with aliens rather than stay around human men.


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