The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles, a seminal work in Ray Bradbury's career, whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time's passage, is available from Simon & Schuster for the first time.

In The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, America’s preeminent storyteller, imagines a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor— of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a vanished, devastated civilization. Earthmen conquer Mars and then are conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race. In this classic work of fiction, Bradbury exposes our ambitions, weaknesses, and ignorance in a strange and breathtaking world where man does not belong.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451678192
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/17/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 108,021
Product dimensions: 4.26(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

August 22, 1920

Place of Birth:

Waukegan, Illinois


Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

January 2030

Rocket Summer

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. The warm desert air changing the frost patterns on the windows, erasing the art work. The skis and sleds suddenly useless. The snow, falling from the cold sky upon the town, turned to a hot rain before it touched the ground.

Rocket summer. People leaned from their dripping porches and watched the reddening sky.

The rocket lay on the launching field, blowing out pink clouds of fire and oven heat. The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land....

February 2030


They had a house of crystal pillars on the planet Mars by the edge of an empty sea, and every morning you could see Mrs. K eating the golden fruits that grew from the crystal walls, or cleaning the house with handfuls ofmagnetic dust which, taking all dirt with it, blew away on the hot wind. Afternoons, when the fossil sea was warm and motionless, and the wine trees stood stiff in the yard, and the little distant Martian bone town was all enclosed, and no one drifted out their doors, you could see Mr. K himself in his room, reading from a metal book with raised hieroglyphs over which he brushed his hand, as one might play a harp. And from the book, as his fingers stroked, a voice sang, a soft ancient voice, which told tales of when the sea was red steam on the shore and ancient men had carried clouds of metal insects and electric spiders into battle.

Mr. and Mrs. K had lived by the dead sea for twenty years, and their ancestors had lived in the same house, which turned and followed the sun, flower-like, for ten centuries.

Mr. and Mrs. K were not old. They had the fair, brownish skin of the true Martian, the yellow coin eyes, the soft musical voices. Once they had liked painting pictures with chemical fire, swimming in the canals in the seasons when the wine trees filled them with green liquors, and talking into the dawn together by the blue phosphorous portraits in the speaking room.

They were not happy now.

This morning Mrs. K stood between the pillars, listening to the desert sands heat, melt into yellow wax, and seemingly run on the horizon.

Something was going to happen.

She waited.

She watched the blue sky of Mars as if it might at any moment grip in on itself, contract, and expel a shining miracle down upon the sand.

Nothing happened.

Tired of waiting, she walked through the misting pillars. A gentle rain sprang from the fluted pillar tops, cooling the scorched air, falling gently on her. On hot days it was like walking in a creek. The floors of the house glittered with cool streams. In the distance she heard her husband playing his book steadily, his fingers never tired of the old songs. Quietly she wished he might one day again spend as much time holding and touching her like a little harp as he did his incredible books.

But no. She shook her head, an imperceptible, forgiving shrug. Her eyelids closed softly down upon her golden eyes. Marriage made people old and familiar, while still young.

She lay back in a chair that moved to take her shape even as she moved. She closed her eyes tightly and nervously.

The dream occurred.

Her brown fingers trembled, came up, grasped at the air. A moment later she sat up, startled, gasping.

She glanced about swiftly, as if expecting someone there before her. She seemed disappointed; the space between the pillars was empty.

Her husband appeared in a triangular door. "Did you call?" he asked irritably.

"No!" she cried.

"I thought I heard you cry out."

"Did I? I was almost asleep and had a dream!"

"In the daytime? You don't often do that."

She sat as if struck in the face by the dream. "How strange, how very strange," she murmured. "The dream."

"Oh?" He evidently wished to return to his book.

"I dreamed about a man."

"A man?"

"A tall man, six feet one inch tall."

"How absurd; a giant, a misshapen giant."

"Somehow"--she tried the words--"he looked all right. In spite of being tall. And he had--oh, I know you'll think it silly-he had blue eyes"'

"Blue eyes! Gods!" cried Mr. K. "What'll you dream next? I suppose he had black hair?"

"How did you guess?" She was excited.

"I picked the most unlikely color," he replied coldly.

"Well, black it was!" she cried. "And he had a very white skin; oh, he was most unusual! He was dressed in a strange uniform and he came down out of the sky and spoke pleasantly to me." She smiled.

"Out of the sky; what nonsense!"

"He came in a metal thing that glittered in the sun," she remembered. She closed her eyes to shape it again. "I dreamed there was the sky and something sparkled like a coin thrown into the air, and suddenly it grew large and fell down softly to land, a long silver craft, round and alien. And a door opened in the side of the silver object and this tall man stepped out."

The Martian Chronicles. Copyright © by Ray Bradbury. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Martian Chronicles 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 165 reviews.
MaskedBandito More than 1 year ago
this book was truly an amazing read. i've read sci-fi before but never like this. I read it 3 years ago and to this day it is one of the best books i have ever read. The way Bradbury can compile short stories in this book and somehow relate every story to one another and give them common features is simply incredible. He even borrows from E.A Poe in one of my favorite stories. this is a must read.
Scotman55 More than 1 year ago
The Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury’s recent passing created an opportunity to reread some of his stories and novels. No, I don’t like all that Bradbury wrote, but his whimsical, lyrical style always attracted me. He could create a world of “Firemen” in Fahrenheit 451 or the mysterious characters of “The Illustrated Man” and leave me entranced. The Martian Chronicles was no exception! First Impressions: The book itself is a loosely-knit series of short stories, one leading to the next, in date order in the writer’s 21st century future. Here we have Earth that is looking towards Mars as a haven from the brewing atomic wars and rumors of such. What impressed me was the stylized characters and fleshed-out civilizations and how both Martian and Earthman deal with each other, as well as their own jealousies and prejudices. Stories! I won’t bore the reader with a mini-review of each tale, but the few that I really liked involved some of the crazy characters – one an off-kilter man, Spender, part of a crew from the Fourth Expedition, who didn’t want to see Mars commercialized as he looked upon the dead Martian civilization (destroyed by Man’s diseases – holy War of the Worlds!) and decides to kill off his own men and keep the planet pristine! That plan does not go over well with Captain Wilder. The darkness of the story and its clear criticism of colonialism were enticing to me. The other story I really liked involved the last colonists on Mars (the rest being called back to Earth because of atomic war) who missed the last rocket, and gets lonely. Far off, he hears a phone ring. He finally finds who rang it, hoping for some female company, but the guy isn’t so lonely that he does not have standards! Finally, the tale of a Martian and an Earth worker, both going to a party driving in their respective vehicles and meet each other on a lonely road – 10,000 years apart! Crazy. Bottom Line: Most of the stories flow well one to the other. Ray does reflect some of the 1940s’ style prejudices of the time which may put off modern readers, but if you read Ray’s poetic style in its historic context, you too will see that a lot of his criticism and satire is still quite relevant. Highly recommended!
BrianIndianFan More than 1 year ago
There's really not much that one can say that hasn't already been said about this classic science fiction set of stories...but I'll try. This collection of short stories was originally published in the early 1950s. Drawing upon his influences - such as Edgar Rice Burrough's "John Carter" series - Bradbury tells the story of the first interactions between the aboriginal Martians and humans and then the eventual full-scale colonization of the red planet. This colonization and interaction take place against the backdrop of tense times on earth - a reflection of the escalating Cold War between the Americans and the Soviet Union. One could also see this as a replay of European colonization of North America - if the Indians had telepathy and better weapons. Ultimately, the 4th expedition discovers that the entire Martian civilization has been wiped out by chicken pox - a disease that sickened earth children, but almost never killed them. It is an ironic counterpoint to Wells' "War of the Worlds" that Bradbury brings the killing virus to the Martians. The middle third of the story continues with the colonization of Mars. The interactions with the remaining Martians are fewer, with the emphasis on terraforming the 4th planet - in habitation if not evironmentally. Of course, humans have fled to Mars, but their humanity has stowed away and made its home there as well. The story "Usher II" addresses the issue of censorship; an issue that has metastasized in our day into political correctness. This theme of censorship by a heavy-handed government would be further developed by Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451. Ultimately, somebody on earth decided to push the button, and full-scale nuclear war breaks out. Seeing earth aflame, most Martian settlers elect to return to earth (why?). The last third of the book tells the tale of the remainder of humanity making his last stand as permanent residents on Mars. Since the book as originally published was going to fall victim to the Moody Blues "Days of Future Passed", the 1997 re-release of the book pushed all dates ahead by 31 years so that they run from 2030 to 2057 (as opposed to the original 1999-2026). This keeps the book from being looked upon as an anachronism. The publisher has also gone inside the stories themselves to make sure that they are consistent with the revised dating. Having now read both "War of the Worlds" and this book, I will at some point attempt to read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars Trilogy" which may take some of these themes to another level. BOTTOM LINE: If you love science fiction and haven't read this, shame on you for six weeks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic Book! i read this book back in high school in science fiction class. at the time i thought it was boring and dull. BUT i have reread it 4 years later. i must say this book is a classic! (having realized that i was just a Jr. in high school who hated to read) know that i am older i see the sheer genius of this book, the child like imagination with a philosophical massage, and the , dare i say, suspense Bradbury throws in. mans inhumanity to hes fellow man and others from another world. if you are a sifi buff this is the book for you!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After lord of rings this is best book ever written. It opened my imagination to read wow books can be likee that it made me avid reader. Amazing stories sad profound.
Hyzenthlay More than 1 year ago
I read this as an adolescent and have recently read it again as an adult. Bradbury never disappoints! I enjoyed it even more in my "old age". The complexity of the story that lost me as a child (not that I knew it at the time) intrigued me to no end! Bradbury has always been one of my favs and it was nice to sit down with an old "friend"!
Anonymous 10 months ago
A great writer. Bradbury never received the acclaim he deserved.
salimbol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A thematically-connected collection of vignettes and short stories about the colonisation of Mars. Always lyrical, it veers between poignancy and a marvellous evocation of place on the one hand, and being clunkily didactic and glaringly dated on the other.
dlweeks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first time I had read this treat from Bradbury. The collection of shorts tie together seamlessly to produce an amazing collection. All of the stories explore aspects of humanity set in an inhuman environment and lead us to new conclusions about what humanity really is. I won't say much more, because this collection is a classic and has been reviewed by better people than I.
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Themes: space, Mars, apocalypse, how soon can humans mess up a planetI wish I had read this sooner. Contains a selection of stories about Earth's exploration of Mars, but it's really a chance for Bradbury to write about what's wrong with humans on this planet. Great stories in here. My favorite was the one about the Blacks leaving in a group for a Promised Land in space. Haunting stories that will definitely stay with me. I was surprised at how dark it was, but without being overtly dramatic about it.
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought I'd read this years ago, but I don't remember it. Anyway, my son read it for school, so I thought I'd (re?)read it, too. Five stars because it's such a classic.
Blue56 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoyed reading this novel I must admit that it is not my favorite Bradbury novel: Fahrenheit 451 is my all-time favorite novel. I did admire the intertwining stories: the connections between various characters, who made several appearances in different chapters. However, I felt that some of the chapters (you may also call them short stories) had similar ideas to close it.
elbakerone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've often stated that Ray Bradbury could write a shopping list in such a way that it would be a captivating read and The Martian Chronicles, one of his earliest works, affirms this view in my mind. Far more interesting than "milk, eggs, bread", the novel is in fact a series of short stories, some only a few paragraphs long, that are tied together by a time line of humans colonizing the planet Mars. Some characters appear multiple times throughout the book but mostly it is the planet - the strange alien atmosphere - that strings together Bradbury's vignettes. The entries are at times chilling and suspenseful while others are lighthearted and humorous and still more provide biting social commentary. Uniting them all, is Bradbury's masterful prose and textured descriptions that bring rich life to Mars and it's alien inhabitants.Oftentimes science fiction is a genre avoided because it can seem too "out there", yet Martian Chronicles - though riddled with rockets and robots - is as much about human sensibilities as it is about futuristic space adventures. This is a novel that can be appreciated by lovers of the sci-fi genre as well as those first encountering Bradbury's work. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
rboyechko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As wild as science fiction gets. Ray Bradbury definitely has his own style that is unlike any other, full of black humor and wild ideas. However, I feel like [author: Stanislaw Lem]'s The Cyberiad is in some ways similar to The Martian Chronicles.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An uneven classic from the late forties and early fifties. It took a while to get into the book but once I did I sensed the Bradbury sense to it. Full of post-war mid-century technical and apocalyptic references mixed with Bradbury's early 20th century sensibilities. Not his best but certainly a distinct work.
benuathanasia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Seeing as I like the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" and truly love "The Naming of Names," I was very disappointed to find out that this book is only a loosely connected series of short stories ranging from terrible to interesting. My biggest gripe with this book is that it does not contain ALL the Martian Chronicles, such as "The Naming of Names" (there are two short stories, by Bradbury, with THIS name, and a similar concept; the one contained in this book, is NOT the one I love). Over all the book was a great idea poorly executed.
lieslmayerson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It had been a while since I had read anything by Bradbury, so I decided to pick this up. Also, given all of the exciting stuff with the Mars exploration -- they found water on Mars last week! -- I thought this an appropriate time to read the Martian Chronicles. Typical Bradbury form, I enjoyed this book. One interesting aspect of the book that I had to get over was this is written from what he thought space exploration would be like in the 1940s. The astronauts in this book are cowboys and rebels as opposed to genius pilots and scientists. A logical perspective from the 1940s, but it is so different from what the reality is. My favorite store in it was probably Usher II although the book is worth reading as a whole.
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With this book I discovered his style is very simular to Asimov. they were probably writing for the same monthly SciFi magazines at the time. These are very short chapters set in a semi-log style starting with January 1999. Of man's attempts to settle Mars, the Martians reaction to colonization and the after affects. The content is very dated (as is Asimov) with white men who drink from flasks and smoke cigarettes stepping off rockets and littering and disrespecting Mars. Still fun to read, this is considered a classic SciFi read. 7-2009
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great short stories. Classic sci/fi.
auntmarge64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A group of linked short stories written in the 1940s and 1950 and describing a group of colonizing missions to Mars. Human reactions to the Martians and their culture are predictably destructive, whether through violence or carelessness. It is Bradbury's imagining of the Martians and their effect on the men and women who travel there that make the collection well worth the read.
RachelPenso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first Ray Bradbury book I ever read. I worked with a group of high schoolers and when I was moving across the state, one of the kids gave me this book as a going away present. He said it was his favorite copy of his favorite book. I have treasured it ever since.
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An all-time classic of the SF field, in a lovely anniversary hardcover.
SweetbriarPoet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Martian Chronicles are a perfect example of good sci-fi writing. Not only are the characters interesting and diverse, but the very definitions of right and wrong, reality and fantasy become skewed and interlocking. I especially enjoyed how the first stories when martians were still visible, physical beings, and then they slowly morph into an idea and a philosophy which must be adopted to survive. The Martian Chronicles are classic science fiction for a reason. Ray Bradbury has always been a genius.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Arguably the best example of science fantasy. Some stories are better than others, but Bradbury is doing what he does best here: Making you think.
carmelitasita29 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love, love, love The Martian Chronicles.