- Martian Chronicles © 1958
- Bantam (1980)
- 181 pages
Ray Bradbury is lauded as one of the best science fiction writers of the 20th century. I’ve only read a couple of his books now (including the famous Fahrenheit 451), but I would have to agree. Put him and the dearly departed Asimov together in a room, and the very nature of reality might shift!
This collection of short-stories is framed by the meta-narrative of humanity’s first encounter with Mars. The stories are tragic and thoroughly human, laying bare the depravity that lies in the human soul.
Bradbury covers a gamut of themes: racism (both human-martian, and human-human), government censorship, war, the transitory nature of human existence, and even environmentalism. The stories themselves are incredibly diverse. The only thing that remains constant is the quality and imagination that underpin each tale. Here’s an example: one of the stories features an automated house as the main character—yet he makes it work, evoking pathos in the process!
I found this book in a box of golden age science fiction reprints at a yard sale. It’s reinforced an old adage: never judge a book by its cover—buy a book on the strength of the name. This won’t be the last Bradbury book in my collection.