Someone reviewed Dandelion Wine on here a week or two ago, and it reminded me how much I enjoy Bradbury, and how shamefully long it’s been since I’ve reread him. So I grabbed a couple of his short story collections at the library, and dove back in. I started with The Martian Chronicles, which I know I read in middle school but haven’t since then.
“The Men of Earth came to Mars. They came because they were afraid or unafraid, because they were happy or unhappy, because they felt like Pilgrims or did not feel like Pilgrims. There was a reason for each man.”
The Martian Chronicles is a collection of short stories linked together by one basic concept: Earthmen have come to Mars. Bradbury creates a series of brief glimpses into the mind of the Martians as well as the humans — none of which are particularly pleasant — and imagines all sorts of consequences. How would humans really react to making it to another planet? What if that planet was already inhabited, and civilized? Some of the short stories feel more like fever dreams, he so convincingly captures the unease and fear of the astronauts. And then from the other side, we see how Martians (or any group really — on Earth or any planet) might react to people coming to their land and claiming they discovered it. Or acting like they ought to be celebrated for making such a journey?
I liked the little mind games, and I loved the ideas about how another species might act or live (even though they seemed pretty human at the base, which is probably the point). Despite the fact that it was published in the 1950s, The Martian Chronicles holds up quite well.