“The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury was originally written as separate short stories. After being submitted to his publisher, the publisher told Bradbury to connect the short stories into a cohesive collection about the planet Mars and its subsequent colonization of the planet.
Each year I teach “There Will Come Soft Rain” by Bradbury and until reading “The Martian Chronicles” I had no idea the two were related. Granted, the inclusion of “Soft Rain” in the “Chronicles” is abstract at best. In fact, it really could’ve been excluded without impacting anything. However, it added something to a reading of “Soft Rain” in the context of the entire “Chronicles” story arch.
The first piece in the “Chronicles” irritated me to know end. The characters felt flat and stereotyped. There was a tone that had the same effect of nails scratching a chalk board. I worried that I was going to hate the whole collection if they were anything like this one. Luckily it was an outlier and I actually loved the book as a whole. While there a few pieces that stood out to me, so many of them blend together that unless I had the book with me, I can’t distinguish one from another.
Two surprising topics that Bradbury tackles is American exceptionalism and racism. I wasn’t expecting Bradbury to address these subjects, which is why I was surprised. He tackles both adroitly if not in a very open and honest manner that makes it uncomfortable in a good way. Because of this and the entertainment factor of reading the collection as a whole, I would recommend this book. I don’t think it should be as overshadowed by “Fahrenheit 451” as much as it is. “The Chronicles” makes me want to read more of Bradbury’s canon.