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The Martian Chronicles: 12/11/08
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is "half-cousin to a novel " and "a book of stories pretending to be a novel " Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction by Jonathan R. Eller and William F. Touponce, 2004, p. 111). Those description fit most of Bradbury's books, the one major exception being Farenheit 451 (1953).
The Martian Chronicles has the distinction of being Bradbury's first published book. It is comprised of some previously short stories strong together with other stories to form a coherent future history of the colonization of Mars (or Tyrr as the natives call it).
The timeline goes from January 1999 through October 2026. Along with the rockets to Mars from Earth, there is also the fall of the Tyrrian people to earth borne diseases much as the European small pox was so devistating to the native American groups.
Most of the stories take place on Mars but there are a few glimpses of life (and death) on Earth interspersed with the events on Mars. "The Off Season " (originally published in 1948) reads like the starting point for Steven Brust's Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (1990) except here it's a hot dog stand and an atomic war. Later on, "There Will Come Soft Rains " (another of the previously published short stories) made me think immediately of Wall-E (Pixar, 2008) except that the robots are all built into a house that has somehow survived the atomic blast in Los Angeles.
Ray Bradbury stories and novels are part of the American psyche. They are taught in schools and have been or referenced so many times it's no wonder that one can see Bradbury's influences in any number of other works.
This was the first Bradbury book I ever read. I didn't know it was also the first one he published! I haven't read it since I was a teen, it would be interesting to go back and see what books/films the stories remind me of (I liked hearing what you compared them to).
Comment #2: Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 20:04:22
Fahrenheit 451 was my first Bradbury novel back in 8th grade but I think I read The Martian Chronicles around the same time. For whatever reason, it didn't stick with me. I enjoyed going back and re-reading it as an adult.
Comment #3: Friday, December, 12, 2008 at 15:59:33
I've recently gotten a friend of mine to start recommending as much of the earlier science fiction as he can think of; I'm trying to catch up and get acquainted with it, even though it's not my main genre of reading right now.
I hadn't thought of Ray Bradbury yet, but obviously he's got to be on my list. I'm waaaaay behind.
Comment #4: Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 20:07:33
Most of Ray Bradbury's books aren't as obviously science fiction as The Martian Chronicles is. If you are specifically looking for science fiction and Bradbury, then Fahrenheit 451 would be an obvious choice. Another book to check out is Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The stories in the book are contemporary with the stories in The Martian Chronicles. I Robot by Isaac Asimov is another good starting point. If you want to see the start of the genre check out H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.