The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles

Published May 1950

I borrowed an audio book version from my library saving me $14.99

Author’s Site

Book Synopsis:

The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.

My Review:

I’ve recently decided to give audio books a try.  It is getting warmer and I want to spend more time working outside in the garden and I thought it would a great way to get two things done at once.  I could keep up with my reading and get the chores I’ve been neglecting done as well.  After searching through the library’s online catalog I decided to go with this title for my first venture into the audio book format.  On that front I did enjoy the book. As with e-books, it is simply a matter of adjusting to another way of consuming a story.  Stephen Hoye read the version of this book that I listened to and I think he did a fine job.  I can see why people follow different narrators around from title to title,  when you find one that works for you, you want to stick with them.   I still felt like I was missing parts of the story as I listened.  I don’t think I retain or imagine the plot as much as if I had read the book myself.  My mind would focus on what I was doing and I realized I wasn’t paying attention to the story anymore. I do think I will give more audio books a try though, just pick ones where I’m okay with missing bits and pieces.

Now to the review of the story itself…  As the book started off I often wondered just what the hell had I gotten myself into.  If I had been reading I might have DNF the title.  I tried to keep in mind this was published in 1950, but that wasn’t easy at times.  The book is made up of loosely connected short stories told in chronological order of human’s man’s colonization of the planet Mars.  For me the book failed on the science fiction front, as little science actually made it into the story…  The book works better if classified as dystopian, it is more a cautionary tale of where society was headed at the time if government and people do not change.  If I look at it from that aspect, it did have some interesting observations and commentary on human society and nature.  Once I got used to how Mr. Bradbury wanted to teach his lesson I found myself captivated with the point he was trying to get across.

For much of the story I wanted to give it three or even four stars, but once I finished…I just couldn’t.  Let me tell you why.  Women.  Simply how they were portrayed in this story was appalling.  Mr. Bradbury is a man of his time, and apparently they were all sexist bastards that couldn’t ever picture a time when women would be nothing more than pampered pets to be coddled as children and have no place in society outside of the home.  Shame on you Mr. Bradbury.  You write this social commentary scolding society for its ills and you leave out half the population! Now I kept trying to tell myself he that maybe he is also making a point on how the role of women is silly and derogatory, but one of the stories near the end crushed that idea.  When he told us about the one man and one woman who are left behind, find each other and the man would rather spend the rest of his time alone and hiding from her because she is fat.  Well he sealed his fate for me.  Two stars it is.  Now I am still intrigued  by his book and writing, and I want to try his most famous work, Fahrenheit 451.  For this book though I am disappointed and expected something better.

I’m glad I listened to it though, there are some important ideas in here, even if he failed in his portrayal of women.  I especially loved the short story dealing with censorship and how many of the people making decisions upon what is acceptable for society’s consumption have never even seen or read the work they are trying to eradicate.   They rely upon the opinions of others rather than making up their own damn mind.  Seems to me I made a similar point just last week…  That short story is what convinced me to give this author another shot.  I hope I’m not as disappointed in the next book as I was with this one. I just felt The Martian Chronicles was a missed opportunity for commentary on gender equality.

My Rating: 2 Stars

 

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4 thoughts on “The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

  1. Amy, I agree with your description of The Martian Chronicles. I found much of it disjointed and choppy, the movie they made wasn’t at all better….Bradberry may hav been revolutionary in his TV series, but his written works were hard to concentrate on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, darlin’. gender equality wasn’t even heard of in 1950 (Nor was dystopia). In the early 70s, I had people ask why I was finishing my college education when Gene already had an excellent one!! I first read Bradbury when I was a teen and I loved him. Fahrenheit 451 is one of my all time favorites.(though you’ll find a bit of sexism there, too)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not much later, in the 60’s Gene Roddenberry made Lt. Uhura the third in command of the Star Ship Enterprise. Some sci-fi fiction writers did manage to dream of a world where there was equality.

      Like

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