A local news item last week caught my fancy. It was a story about a young woman from Eugene, Oregon, who has applied to be one of the first people to colonize Mars. A company called Mars One is planning to establish human settlements on Mars, starting in 2024. Crews of four will leave Earth for Mars every two years, and this young lady is one of 1000 people to make the first cut for the first flight. I admire her dream and her courage! What a fascinating idea! Here comes the Future!
The news item couldn’t have been more timely for me because I just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s, The Martian Chronicles, which is a classic science fiction book about that very thing — humans colonizing Mars. I wonder if this young woman has read the book? I wonder if the people in charge of the Mars One organization have read it? I hope so because I think it would be an important book for them all to read before they leave Earth to establish those human settlements on the Red Planet.
Bradbury, himself, narrated the audiobook version I listened to, and I enjoyed listening to his voice. The best parts of all, however, were his comments at the end of each story explaining his writing process and/or the inspiration for that story.
The book is a series of stories told chronologically, each separate yet with references to happenings or people in the other stories. The first story is about the arrival on Mars of the first humans and of their immediate demise. Each subsequent story is about another group of settlers, a larger group each time, and the problems they face with the planet, and the native Martian population, and with each other.
I was expecting a more fanciful, plot-driven, movie-like story about Mars and Martians, but the book is really a very insightful exploration of what it means to be Human. Ray Bradbury has the eye of a sociologist but the heart of a poet, so his stories and creativity are wonderful to experience and leave you with a deeper understanding of the human condition. This book was somewhat awkward at times, and one story, in particular, was very disturbing to read (a story that is definitely politically and culturally incorrect in today’s world.) So I gave the book only 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I’ve discovered it’s one of those books that lingers. I’ve thought a lot about it since I finished it, and like it more now than I did when I finished the final page.
I chose this book for Carl V’s 2014 Sci-Fi Experience, and I really enjoyed the reading experience. It’s certainly a book that gets you thinking, and that’s why I hope it would be required reading for anyone seriously contemplating relocating to Mars!