Ray Bradbury’s novel “The Martian Chronicles”: a summary

Summary of the Martian ChroniclesThe Martian Chronicles is a cult novel by American science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. The work consists of thematic stories and short stories dedicated to the exploration of Mars by earthlings. For ten years, the short stories were published as independent works in magazines. In the 50s, they were arranged in chronological order and combined into a novel.

The Bradbury Chronicles have become classics of the science fiction genre and inspired many followers to develop the Martian theme in literature and culture in general. The novel has been filmed several times. In 1980, two film versions of The Chronicles were released at once – an American mini-series of the same name and a Soviet feature film called The Eighth Day of Creation. In the future, individual novels and stories of the Chronicles (for example, Earthlings, The Martian, Silent Cities, and others) found screen incarnation.

Let’s remember how the exploration of Mars and the fall of the Earth took place according to Ray Bradbury.

1999: First and second expeditions. Visions of Mrs. K

Near future. 1999 Planet Earth. People have finally designed a rocket capable of covering the distance from Earth to Mars in a short time – about 60 million light years. It was the winter of 1999 when the first expedition set off for the mysterious fourth planet.

Meanwhile, the ordinary Martian Mrs. K began to see strange and very real dreams. She dreamed of the same man with pale skin, dark hair, and blue eyes. The man introduced himself as Nathaniel York and said that he came from the third planet. When Mrs. K told Mr. K about her dreams, he was extremely annoyed by his wife’s stupid fantasies. Pale skin? Blue eyes? Dark hair? You can’t think of more nonsense! Moreover, all educated Martians know that life on the third planet is impossible – the atmosphere there is unsuitable.

Expeditions One and Two, However, Missy K’s visions did not stop. One day she sang a song in a foreign language. How Mrs. K knew this language and this motive, she could not explain. Mrs. K sang her strange song morning, afternoon, evening, and even in her sleep. And she was always drawn to the valley as if something important was about to happen there. The prudent Mr. K did not let his wife go for a walk and, having been ordered her to stay at home, went hunting bees. A few hours later Mr. K returned home and gloomily placed his gun at the door, and Mrs. K that evening for some reason was very sad and she was crying.

Traces of the first expedition to Mars have been lost. In the same 1999, earthlings organized a second expedition, which again turned out to be doomed. The fact is that the inhabitants of Mars are excellent telepaths. They can project their thoughts into visual, auditory, olfactory, and even tactile illusions. So the team of astronauts from Earth was mistaken for insane people and put in a lunatic asylum, and the spaceship was considered an illusion. In the process of radical “treatment”, the earthlings died without proving their case, and the ship and things were stolen for scrap metal and black markets.

2000: Third expedition. “Second chance”

After the disappearance of the first two expeditions, the third team of cosmonauts was prepared with particular care. However, on the mysterious fourth planet, an unexpected surprise awaited them – a city of extraordinary beauty opened up to the gaze of travelers, exactly like the earth, as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. At first, the stunned crew thought that the ship had somehow overcome time space and entered the past. However, having met with the locals, they realized that this was not the past, but an alternative world – a kind of afterlife, the so-called “second chance”.

The Third Expedition One by one, the long-dead relatives and friends of the crew members came out to the ship. And even the strict captain was stunned when he saw his dead brother, father, and mother, who met him on the threshold of their old house. At dinner, the family had fun, ate their mother’s specialties, and went to bed contented and happy. Only the captain for some reason was anxious in his soul. And what if, he began to think, this is not reality, but only an illusion, a carefully planned trap of the Martians? They, as excellent telepaths, could use the memories of earthly aliens against themselves.

The captain rose abruptly from the bed. He wanted to immediately share his insights with his comrades, but his brother’s cold voice stopped him. “Where are you going?” “For water.” “You don’t want to drink,” the voice said confidently. The captain went cold. He realized that his fears were justified, only too late.

2001: Fourth expedition. The first pilgrims

Three expeditions sent by humanity to Mars have disappeared without a trace. However, the earthlings did not give up trying to conquer the mysterious neighbor and sent the fourth group of first-class astronauts. This time the travelers found the “red planet” empty.

Fourth Expedition. The first pilgrims

There were cities, streets, houses, and personal belongings of the inhabitants, but there were no inhabitants themselves – only mountains of corpses. As the doctors who arrived as part of the expedition managed to establish, the Martians were killed by ordinary chicken pox. A childhood illness, which is easily endured by all the inhabitants of the Earth, has destroyed an entire civilization. So, by the will of fate, earthlings became the heirs of the whole planet.

At first, there were few people who wanted to move to Mars. Only desperate daredevils dared to become the first pilgrims. Benjamin Driscoll, on the contrary, dreamed of settling on Mars. Doctors forbade him to fly – Benjamin’s weak lungs could barely cope with the rarefied Martian air – but Driscoll did not give up! Every breath turned into real torture for him, but, despite the desert heat of the “red planet”, every day Benjamin planted the seeds of earthly trees, bushes, and grasses. A whole month – and not a single escape. A whole month without a single raindrop!

Benjamin decided not to look back. He worked despite failures, and one day he was rewarded. That night it rained, and in the morning the Martian desert turned into a lush green garden. Benjamin breathed in the fresh air, saturated with intoxicating oxygen, and lost consciousness.

2002-2005: Earthlings on Mars. Start of the Great War

People began to rapidly populate Mars. In just a few years, they erected entire cities and gave their own, earthly, names to rivers, seas, mountains, and settlements. Since the ships were American, the pilgrims were mostly Americans, and the rest of the world only watched in fascination at the great migration.

Some flew to Mars for new experiences, others – for peace, others fled from the dubious benefits of earthly civilization, the fourth – from future wars. The Martians have become legends. It was rumored that some of them still survived and now live somewhere far away in the mountains. No, no, the natives appear before the earthlings either in the form of a mischievous desert mirage or in the face of a long-dead little son, whose ashes rest on Earth.

Summary Death is a Lonely Business by BradburyYou might like an unusual detective story from Ray Bradbury called You might like an unusual detective story from Ray Bradbury called “Death is a Lonely Business”, which explores the very nature of death and a person’s fear of inevitable death.

An undeniable masterpiece from fantasy maestro Ray Bradbury “The Thunder Came Out”, which develops the idea of ​​the inseparability of matter and time, a phenomenon that was later called the “butterfly effect”.

… The old Earth shimmers in the sky. Now humanity is going through a far from the best time – the whole planet is involved in a war: Australia almost went underwater due to an explosion, Washington and Los Angeles are being bombed, and spaceships are taking away more and more groups of earthlings towards a new life on the “red planet”.

2026: End of the Earth. New Martians

Little Timati asks his father to show him the Martians. The head of the family leads the children and his wife into the valley to the water channel. “Where are they?” the boy asks impatiently. “Here they are. Look!” Five figures are reflected on the water surface – Timati, Michael, Robert, mom, and dad.

About The Martian Chronicles 1950

The novel by Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles was published in 1950 and consists of a number of episodic novels and short stories. The main plot includes stories about the colonization of Mars, but the main attention is paid to the acute social problems of those years in America, the reaction against censorship and racism, the threat of nuclear war, and the longing for an ordinary measured life. The novel tells about the first arrival of people on Mars, the confrontation between a Martian and a man, a sudden earthly disease, and the death of the inhabitants.

 Numerous critics note the literary and artistic heterogeneity of the book. Ray published some of the stories prior to the book’s official release in magazines. Such heterogeneity of the plot allows the author of the book to freely address a number of topics that concern both the author personally and his contemporaries. Ray has reminiscences and allusions in the chapters of the novel, echoing the author’s autonomous works written over twenty years until the 1960s.

The book that made the author famous

This book was published in 1949. The book was divided into 18 stories and 11 connecting chapters. Some stories from the book had to be excluded. In 1929, for the first time in his life, Ray had a long-distance telephone conversation with Walter Bradbury, during the telephone conversation they discussed which manuscripts from the book “Martian Books” should be canceled. There was a decision to exclude four chapters: “Epidemic”, “Fathers”, and “Wheel”.

The publication of The Martian Chronicles was soon planned for the spring of 1950. Ray scheduled a train ride to New York to meet Don’s agent and publisher Walter Bradbury. On this trip, Ray decided to stop early and made a stop in Chicago to meet a sci-fi fan. As soon as Ray arrived at the Art Institute, a group of science fiction came running to him, holding printouts of The Martian Chronicles, in order for Ray Bradbury to autograph copies of the books.

The story of the creation of the “Martian Chronicles”

Ray Bradbury called The Martian Chronicles an accidental novel. Ray brought his own collection of short stories to the publisher, but the publisher advised the author to remake the stories into a novel.

Each story is united by a single theme of the planet Mars. The text consists of twenty-eight stories. The book is surprisingly easy to read, there is not a single positive, joyful plot in the novel. The author argues that if people are illiterate, this will lead to destruction, but also if a person is smarter and more well-mannered than others, then this will not help a person much. Nothing lasts forever, and humanity itself aggravates the situation.

Reading stories with a serious feeling is hard, but the book is uplifting. In the work, people are so small and funny, people have established interstellar flights in the hope of a brighter future but drag themselves everywhere with them. The book tells about future days, so in 1997 the story shifted to events in 2031.


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Daniel Smith
Daniel Smith
3 months ago

This another interesting story from my favorite writer who likes to fantasize and prophesy our history as humanity as a whole! I advise everyone who respects Ray Bradbury’s work to read and fully enjoy all his thoughts about our world, about what can happen, and what should be expected. You can say that this is some kind of prophecy to humanity, which should not be done because fiction can turn out to be true for each of us at any moment!

3 months ago

I have always been attracted to the distant boundless wastelands, distant galaxies, and stars. There is something mysterious and fascinating about it. After all, what exactly did primitive people think when they looked at the sky, what images did they imagine? It seems to me that we have similar emotions. However, now that some of the questions about space have been answered, we have even more unanswered questions and the mystery of space grows with each question asked.