The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is one of the icons of Science Fiction, which shouldn’t be surprising since he’s published something like 500 works, so when I added The Martian Chronicles to my list for the decades challenge, I did it in honor of his contribution to the field, as well as because I vaguely remember reading part of it as a child, and not really appreciating it.

Re-reading it was sort of disappointing. I’d forgotten about the sexism and racism – products of the time – that were in the various short stories, and that colored my appreciation of Bradbury’s version of Mars. On his Mars the canals actually hold water and the atmosphere is breathable. In addition, there are actual Martians, though, as in another iconic work of science fiction War of the Worlds a mundane human disease destroys the entire population quite accidentally.

Dated notions of society aside, I enjoyed revisiting this version of the Red Planet, especially because of the last tale in the book, in which a picnicking family boats down a canal, and their son asks where the Martians are, only to be told to look over the edge. What he sees is his own reflection.