This is a book I kept out of the library so long as a kid that I accrued a $75 fine (do I currently have two books out of the library that are also so overdue they’re going to charge me for them if I don’t return them — yes, I haven’t learned my lesson). I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve read it and I’m happy to say it holds up yet again. It has been a few years since I’d read The Martian Chronicles and I figured it would continue my theme of reading books set in hot places while fulfilling a bingo square. Plus I’ve been lugging around a box of my dad’s sci-fi paperbacks and this was in there when I was looking for something light to read, so the stars aligned!
The Martian Chronicles is a connected set of short stories and few vignette-type paragraphs. It covers humanity’s arrival on Mars and our impact on the Martian population and the planet. Setting it from 1999-2026 did not make it age well in terms of what Bradbury thought would be happening in world history, and it has a very 1950s view of gender relations, but I am so fond of this book and it retained its magical charm for me. The mental pictures I have when I read this book are so strong since I’ve been imagining them since I was probably seven, and I am immediately transported. I also think this collection includes some very strong stories (“There Will Come Soft Rains” is one of my all-time favorites) and an overall powerful message about our inability to stop destroying ourselves and anything we come into contact with. It ends on a hopeful note but I appreciated the bleak and jaundiced eye Bradbury uses here, as it mirrored some of my own thoughts.
A warning for the N-word but in the context of being used by racist people, and Bradbury uses it to show that they’re bad people. I will say that after this story, where all the black people go to Mars, they somehow never show up again and I do wonder what happened to them. It’s a good story but it’s not subtle and it has its own stereotypes of black people in it.