Lisa - UMD
posts on 3/18/2010 6:33:06 PM
My favorite part was the story that involved Spender. Throughout humanity's brutal history, there have been people who have resisted their society's attitude of entitlement to take whatever it wanted at whatever cost. When I read about Spender, St. Bartolame De Las Casas came to mind. He was a priest who was included in Christopher Columbus's early expidition to Hispaniola, but he was so appalled by the genocidal attacks on the native people that he became an advocate for the native people and fought against the ecomienda system of slave labor. Granted, Spender did not use peaceful means. Instead of viewing Spender as a hero, I felt pity for him. He was "ahead of his time," so to speak, so he felt like an outcast. I found it difficult to believe that he would have been allowed to go on the Mars expedition. The book makes many references to the communism scare, and clearly anyone who knew Spender would know of his political leanings and values. Even if he wasn't communist, anything he said would probably make him sound like one, so I can't imagine they would have selected him as the expedition's geologist or whatever position he held. I felt bad for Spender, though, because he knew his efforts were futile and that he couldn't hold back the coming tides of humans who would do whatever they wanted with Mars.
Dylan M UMD
posts on 3/3/2010 5:46:24 PM
This book had me flipping through pages faster than most other books I've enjoyed. Ray Bradbury really is a master of detail and I think that is what makes this book so great, is his marvelous ability to describe what (in his mind) things such as the martian villages, to the burning down house in "There Will Come Soft Rains," to Walter Gripp walking through the empty towns with a jukebox playing somewhere off in the distance. It truly does make the entire book feel like a movie, by that I mean he is able to take and open up the readers mind and expand their imagination. This book, I'm sure, will find it's way into my reading queue from time to time again throughout the years. Enjoyable, fascinating, and gripping.
Melissa Rothstein [UMD]
posts on 2/15/2010 9:09:04 PM
I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. It is beautifully written; although the characters introduced only appear for a short amount of time, I think Bradbury does a great job of conveying their personality and getting emotional reactions from his readers. We can see things from Spender's perspective, we pity the shape-shifting Martian [son of Lafarge] that just wants to be loved and accepted, and we really hate that guy that built the hot dog stand. I thought the chapter "Usher II" was the most entertaining and creative, although probably not very significant to the story or feel of the novel. Overall this book made me kind of sad; it seems humanity in general seeks to conquer and impose rather than respect or understand differences.
Lorri Ibach (UMD)
posts on 2/14/2010 10:26:53 PM
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Each chapter was a story all it's own. I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter.
I agree with some of the earlier posts that “The Martian Chronicles” does seem to parallel the Europeans coming to American. The settlement of Mars is very similar to the settlement of America. There was even a version of Johnny Appleseed on Mars, namely Benjamin Driscoll. The mass death of the native people by chickenpox a disease brought to Mars by the Earthlings was also similar to what happened to the Native Americans.
Bradbury was realistic in his portrayal of man; man killed the Martians, perhaps not intentionally, but none the less it happens. There was very little remorse for what happened to the Martian people. This was similar to the attitude toward the Native Americans. The exception would be Jeff Splender, the archeologist from the fourth expedition, who fights and dies to try to preserve what is left of the Martian civilization.
There also seems to be similarities to the Wild West. Mars was a land with few rules and no one to enforce them, a wild frontier. When it became somewhat tamed, wealthy people started vacationing on Mars. To protect the wealthy, rules and censorship were established.
I feel that this book has similarities to a more recent America, and America of the 1940’s or 50’s. It mentions the issues of book banning, censorship, racial inequality, and patriotism. The fact that almost the entire population of Mars returns to Earth to join the fight in the chapter “The Luggage Store,” reminds me of the “call to duty” during WWII. Everyone felt they had the obligation to fight for their country. I wonder if this book was written today, if Bradbury would have had the people leave Mars to fight a war on Earth.
posts on 2/11/2010 12:14:28 PM
When I began reading this book I had no idea that each chapter was different. I'll admit I got excited in the first chapter anticipating the humans landing on Mars and York sweeping Mrs. K off her feet after I could see how badly Mr. K treated her. I believed that the story would simply progress from that beginning not turn into something completely new each chapter. Even multiple chapters later I didn't get it that Mr. K killed York out of jealousy, though eventually I understood what really happened. Bradbury's description of the martian race even in the first chapter was an indication that they were not very different from the human race. The book continued to reveal certain parallel's between the two races yet showed that their differences were sometimes extreme. One of the most intriguing parts for me was when the human and the martian meet while on the road. I didn't really get exactly what was going on but I still found it very interesting. I liked David 97's comment about how he wonders if we would have taken over the Native Americans land if we would have just simple opened our eyes to the beauty of their culture and civilization. Spender saw this and it's sad that more people didn't.
posts on 1/13/2010 8:34:05 PM
Not being a particularly religious person, but having attended a catholic school most of my life I can see this book being one that is outlawed from Catholic schools. The book seems to tie things into religion with science. At the end, The Last Martians. This seems like a logical situation to begin anew after such world turmoil. It seems that after a war of the world we may need to escape earth and move to another planet that could support life, however it would have to start with a small group, a family or two maybe. It really does remind me of a story from the Christian Bible. Noah and the Ark. Would anybody agree?
David 97 - UMD
posts on 12/25/2009 7:49:59 AM
The Martian Chronicles asks us to look at many things through different perspectives. Everything from questioning how good or bad it was to colonize and conquer the Americas to what people of the bible theoretically could have seen. The descriptions of rockets taking off and flying in the sky can be paralleled to the burning bush in the bible if they didn't know what they were looking at.
The split in time and showing the two perspectives as seen by the different people simultaneously is an interesting twist, and makes us wonder if we would have done the same things to the Native Americans if we would have been able to see the destruction of their culture an civilization the way we did. Any thoughts?
posts on 12/21/2009 11:37:55 AM
I think that there is a lot that can be taken from this book relating to our own existence and what we have gone through to get where we are today. I agree with some of the parallels drawn from this book and how they can relate to our past and possibly our future, relating to the taking over of certain races, and what extreme measures mankind will take to get what it wants. This book was able to show both side of this though, and I found it masterful how he was able to relate all of the stories while having the ability to make it so interesting and thought provoking. Some characters showed the ability to be themselves, not abiding by the human standards. Spender was able to see things differently; able to understand the Martian race and how they aren’t so different than what humans actually are or could be. They almost seemed superior through Spender’s eyes, living a life of peace, focusing and cultivating the world they are provided with, valuing art, religion, and their environment, whereas the rest of the humans celebrated the death of the Martians, planning how they will take over and ruin yet another planet.
posts on 12/20/2009 11:39:48 PM
I have to admit, I really enjoyed reading this book. The way that it gave a unique way to examine human nature though the medium of a hypothetical alien race that, if really existed, would be believed to be greatly different from our own. This was an ingenious way to have the reader take a look at the human psychology through the proxy of an alien that has been portrayed through the way that the alien interacted in the humans in the book. The first of such interactions was the intense emotions that both martins and humans have and the fact that they can get the best of us. This is shown through Mr. K’s extreme jealousy of York that eventually led to York’s death. The second aspect is fear of the unknown or of what is different. This is seen through the killing off of the second and third expeditions. Both the humans and the Martins show one very important trait in common through the three human expeditions. Determination. Just as the humans are determined to settle on Mars, the Martins are determined to turn the humans ways, an tug of war between the two species. One trying to gain ground and the other trying to keep what they have.
I must say that my favorite part of the book was when Tomas and the Martin were trying to figure out who was of this time. To me, it showed the perfect example of how both species were the same through the use of similar emotions (surprise, intrigue, curiosity) to even the same social structure (parties). In the end, we are both the same. Only the outside is different because on the inside, we are all the same.
posts on 12/18/2009 3:21:55 PM
I would also agree that this is one of the best fiction novels I have read in a long time. As a compilation of mini-stories, I found the connection between the characters extremely satisfying. Also, as expected from Bradbury, the social commentary was provoking, and many of the issues still exist today.
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