Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Martian Chronicles, 1950

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, published 1950. If I were ever pressed to name my favorite book, to save my life, it would most certainly be this one. In The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury tells of the conquest of Mars by man, the demise of the indigenious Martians, and the later loss of the human colony because of the breakout of a world war back on Earth.

In this book, Bradbury manages to convey a lot of emotions, mostly sadness and loss, while also telling some of the most twisted and entertaining stories. Many episodes from the book, endlessly ripped of and remade in other works, immediately spring to mind, but one of the most ingenious scenes from the book is the meeting of a Martian and a human in the desert, each in their own time, both convinced that the other is an apparition. They part, friendly and in peace, but both sure that only their own view of the world can be true. The Martian Chronicles is, in each individual chapter, an enormous piece of fiction and ever so strong.

One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.

And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town. A flooding sea of hot air; it seemed as if someone had left a bakery door open. The heat pulsed among the cottages and bushes and children. The icicles dropped, shattering, to melt. The doors flew open. The windows flew up. The children worked off their wool clothes. The housewives shed their bear disguises. The snow dissolved and showed last summer's ancient green lawns.

Rocket summer. The words passed among the people in the open, airing houses. Rocket summer.

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