The Martian Chronicles is a loosely related series of short stories that Bradbury wrote over a number of years. They weren’t originally intended to be part of a series. It wasn’t until later that it was pointed out to him that he had a lot of stories about Mars and he put them all together into a book.
These stories run the gamut form creepy to heartbreaking to downright terrifying. There are adventures, horrors, and even a few tragic comedies. Every one of them is told with Bradbury’s grand strength in writing and a seeming prescience about the future of some of our technology (and a blind ignorance for much of it as well).
Bradbury writes with an efficiency of language that is truly astounding to behold. In a single sentence he can give us a character name and show us exactly what that person is like. Descriptions are sparse but powerful enough to evoke a feeling to a setting as much as a place.
Ray Bradbury tells a story of when he was younger and he would spend much of his time at the local library reading books and he decided at an early age that he was going to become a writer. The world can thank libraries for Bradbury, if not for them we may have never had some of the marvelous stories that he gave us.
One of my favorite of his stories appears near the end of The Martian Chronicles. “There Will Come Soft Rains” has no characters in it except a house that is struggling to go on living, preparing breakfasts for it’s absent inhabitants, cleaning the floors, feeding the dog. The tragedy and sadness communicated through this dwelling place are palpable in a way that must be experienced to be believed.
Ray Bradbury is always a good choice for anybody to read. If you haven’t read The Martian Chronicles or it’s been awhile then go find a copy. Bradbury has a skill and a talent that is rare at best, possibly even unique.