Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles


Published by Diogenes, 2008


It is a promising start for the project to colonize Mars. The exploratory expeditions sent from Earth are successful, and so pioneers set their foot on the planet. What they encounter is fantastic and beautiful, the inhabitants with eyes like molten gold and bodies like jade grasshoppers.


Certainly nobody anticipated what happens next, though. The aboriginal Martians lure the invaders into a dream world and kill them. But they, too, are doomed to die – of varicella the Earthmen had brought with them.


At least this clears the way for a large-scale colonization. The colonists build whole cities that look exactly like the ones they are coming from. Bureaucracy and other important achievements are established. But after 27 years, the settlers are called to return to Earth because an atomic war is imminent. This catastrophe eradicates mankind. Only a few can save themselves, using their space shuttles to fly to Mars.


With his 1950 work ‘The Martian Chronicles’, American author Ray Bradbury presented a classic of the Science Fiction genre, for which he drew upon the colonial experiences of his own country. Taking place in 1996-2026, Bradbury’s story is a reflection of the fears of his time. The picture his collection of short stories draw of the future is a gloomy one. A peaceful coexistence of man and Martian is not possible. Neither is that of man and man. His hope of improvement is disappointed in Bradbury’s work – a dystopia like the novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’ he published in 1953. There is no space shuttle fast enough for the humans to escape their intrinsic flaws.


Acclaimed by the public, the American writer greatly inspired many of his colleagues. The Grand Master of Science Fiction was immortalized even before his death in 2012. Four years earlier, NASA Mars lander Phoenix had not only deposited the country’s flag and documents on the Red Planet, but also a DVD containing a copy of ‘The Martian Chronicles’.


Annika Backe


Signet Sunflower Foundation