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September Book Club meeting: "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles is an excellent collection of loosely-tied stories which together, make the history of man's conquest of Mars.  It is one of Ray Bradbury's finest books, and certainly his most popular one.

One striking feature of many of the stories is the progressive political values which they embrace.  Written during the height of the Cold War anti-Communist hysteria, they criticize imperialism, racism, xenophobia, environmental destruction, censorship and the nuclear arms race.  Bradbury was not alone.  Several science fiction writers critiqued smug assumptions about the superiority of American values during that period.  But that such a volume could become the single most widely-read science fiction book during the 1950s is a tribute to the charm of Bradbury's style, a compound of sentimental nostalgia, idealism, and above all, delight in the pleasures of the senses. Readers will note that colors, textures, smells and sounds are often used in these stories to bring a scene to life.

Author and historian Russell Kirk feels that the greatest strength of The Martian Chronicles is its ability to make us look closely at ourselves.  Kirk states: "What gives The Martian Chronicles their cunning is...their portrayal of human nature, in all its baseness and all its promise, against an exquisite stage set.  We are shown normality, the permanent things in human nature, but the light of another world; and what we forget about ourselves in the ordinariness of our routine of existence suddenly bursts upon us as a fresh revelation...Bradbury's stories are not an escape from reality; they are windows looking upon enduring reality."

The Martian Chronicles depicts humankind as mostly violent in nature. Ray Bradbury holds a mirror in front of the reader's face, and the reflected image is not very nice.

About Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012) published some 500 short stories, novels, plays and poems since his first story appeared in Weird Tales when he was twenty years old. Among his many famous works are Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles.

 


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  • Wilfredo P.

    Excellent discussion with Janice and Holly on one of the most important science fiction books of the 20th century.

    Unfortunately, the attendance at the book club is dwindling despite the fact that I've picked a wider variety of books to discuss. Come on, people--Freethinkers are supposed to love books!

    September 30, 2013

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