Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Martian Chronicles

In honor of Ray Bradbury's birthday August 22, 1920:

The Martian Chronicles is made up of a collection of short stories written by Ray Bradbury during the 1940s along with "filler" vignettes to tie these stories together. The "novel", published in 1950, tells the future of space travel to Mars starting in 1999. The vignettes follow multiple expeditions to Mars, starting with the first expeditions to later mass colonization.
This is science fiction, speculative fiction, at its best; even if you are not a fan of science fiction, this is a very accesible book with plenty of philosophical themes thrown in.
Perhaps my favorite vignette is the one on the automatic house. This house cleans itself, prepares breakfast for the human inhabitants, and recites poetry. What the house can not realize is that the owners have been annihilated in a nuclear blast, and all that remains of them are their shadows on the outside wall.
Another favorite features Walter Gripp. Walter Gripp lived on the outskirts of a major settlement on Mars. He comes back to town to refurnish his supplies, only to find that everyone has left to return to Earth rather hastily. The streets are empty, the cash registers are full of money, and he has the whole town to himself. He's lonely as the last man on Mars, until the phone rings one day.
The short story format makes this an easy read, and a definite recommendation from me. Enjoy!

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