The Martian Chronicles, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (6 ratings)


The strange and wonderful tale of man's experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions.The classic work that transformed Ray Bradbury into a household name. Written in the age of the atom when America and Europe optimisitcally viewed the discovery of life on Mars as inevitable, Bradbury's 1940s short stories of a brutal, stark and unforgiving martian landscape were as shocking and visionary as they were insightful. `The Martian Chronicles' tells the story of humanity's repeated attempts to colonize the red planet.

The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a pin dot.

Those few that survived found no welcome. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up. More rockets arrived from Earth, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians.

People brought their old prejudices with them - and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams.

These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780006479239

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Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

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Review by

A collection of stories about the colonisation of Mars, and the relationship between the native Martian species and the human invaders. Sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, a collection worth reading.

Review by

I read this in honour of the author's passing last week. It contains some interesting things about the clash between Earth and Mars civilizations and shows the Martians in an uncompromising light in using psychological means to stop humans from colonising their planet. In the latter parts, this becomes a clear message, dating from the early days of the Cold War, of the horrors of nuclear war, as humans who have settled on Mars return to Earth to take part in the conflict, so that both planets end up being deserted. All that said, I didn't find this really satisfying as a novel as there are no three dimensional characters throughout and you never really get a true feel for who the Martians are and what they are like. 3.5/5

Review by

Written as a series of interlinked stories in the middle of the twentieth century, the book tells the story of the first expeditions to travel to Mars, and its subsequent colonisation by people from Earth. But this Mars is not the planet that we know, but a canal crossed desert planet older than Earth, with a thin but breathable atmosphere, inhabited by an ancient civilisation. It's the Mars of H.G. Wells and other early science-fiction writers and it's very appealing. It doesn't matter to me that it's factually incorrect.I found that the stories have dated to some degree, with the social structures very much those of America in the 1940's and 1950's. In the main this didn't worry me too much as I think that you need to judge books according to the values of when they were written - it's no good looking at a 60 year old book and expecting it to be written in the same way as a contemporary novel.In the main I think my main problem with the book was in its depiction of the character of the first explorers and colonisers. Despite mainly seeming to consist of scientists and engineers of one sort of another, with very few exceptions the members of the early expeditions have hardly any curiosity about the planet which they have arrived at or about its inhabitants. In the story 'The Earth Men' for example, the members of the Second Expedition are disgusted to find that instead of being given the ticker tape parade that they seem to be expecting, they are treated as madmen for claiming to come from Earth. At no time do they show the slightest interest in what is around them, or consider that the Martians might reasonably be something other than delighted to see them or might even be hostile. They come over as a group of petulant small children who are upset at not being given a toy after doing something clever. As the colonisation of Mars continues it's obvious that Bradbury is making a point here about the effects of contemporary society, as the human colonisation on Mars starts to have as detrimental an effect on that planet as humans have had on the Earth of the book, but it just seems rather overdone.

Review by
Across the ancient sea floor a dozen tall, blue-sailed Martian sand-ships floated, like blue ghosts, like blue smoke.'Sand ships! But there aren't any more, Elma, no more sand ships.''Those seem to be sand ships,' she said. But the authorities confiscated all of them! They broke them up, sold some at auction! I’m the only one in this whole damn territory's got one and knows how to run one.''Not any more,' she said, nodding at the sea.The best thing about this book, is the atmosphere of calm, of dying civilisations that no longer struggling to stay alive. The stories have an elegaic quality, whether the protagonists are Martians or Earthmen, even though there is violence some of the stories.The only story I remembered in much detail from the last time I read it is "The Third Expedition", with the stunned expedition members finding what seems to be an old-fashioned Ohio town on Mars, when they land their rocket on the lawn of a Victorian house. Other memorable stories include "Way Up in the Middle of the Air", "The Martian", "The Silent Towns" and "There Will Come Soft Rains", the last of which I have read more recently, or maybe heard narrated on a podcast.
Review by

Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a novel of science fiction, set in a future extrapolated from the society of the 1950s. This vision of the future explores both humanity's nature, and its relationship to technology. In doing so, it follows in the tradition of Mary Shelley and Nathaniel Hawthorne, by questioning what the increasing sophistication of our sciences and arts mean for society. It is clear from the outset (when the first expeditions cross immense distances in their rockets) that technology has brought mankind new powers – but the way these powers are used are not necessarily for the good of all.As well as the deleterious impact which the mere presence of humans seems to have on the native population of Mars (their numbers dwindling even as they struggle to repel the invaders), mentions of war and conflict start to appear as the humans settle. In particular, the spectre of nuclear war lingers over the human societies which are established on Mars, inescapable even through the vastness of space. The suggestion is that men have brought their warlike natures with them.The chronicle which is most tellingly ambivalent about the technologies of the future is the beautiful “There Will Come Soft Rains”, which tells the story of a house. This house has all the affordances of advanced technology, such as automatic ovens, story-telling machines, metal cleaning rodents and a panoply of helpful gadgets. These devices play on to their own set schedule, even when it is clear that no humans remain — the technology outlives its masters, and is seen to be indifferent to their fate. The eventual destruction of the house by fire paints a vivid image of a technological apocalypse.It is interesting to speculate how much this dystopian mood was inculcated by the society of the 1950s, where the world had recently survived a convulsive war in which technology played an unprecedented role. However, the importance of the work means that it is not just of its own age — it is a book for all the ages of man.

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