The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
When I first read this book – sometime in the late 60s/early 70s – as a teenager, the copy I borrowed from our village library was titled The Silver Locusts. I still think of it by that, which I think is a better, title. The Silver Locusts captures a better sense of the dreamlike tone of much of this book, which conveys a very unearth-like world where the Martians are stranger than we can imagine and the strange world they inhabit seeps inside the humans that arrive in every-increasing numbers in those silver locusts that fill the Mars sky.
You could see it as a meditation on colonialism, or the European takeover of the Americas, but to see it only in those narrow terms would be to miss much of what makes this book haunt your thoughts and occasionally your dreams sometimes many decades after first reading it.
The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.
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 fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.
But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, 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.