Oh Ray Bradbury, you never cease to amaze me.
Rad Bradbury is one of those writers who writes for other writers, for those well-schooled in the world of science fiction literature, and for those out there who harbor a secret fear of the annihilation of literature and art.
Maybe this Illinois native appeals to me because – like me – he grew up in the midwest. I remember reading Fahrenheit 451 in school and being TERRIFIED that one day the dystopian world brought to life in that novel would one day become a reality. Despite the declining popularity of books (and by books I mean stories that are physically printed on paper and bound with a cover), I optimistically believe that there are enough book-lovers out there to keep the industry alive.
But anyway, the topic of this post is The Martian Chronicles. Upon the suggestion of a friend, I went into Barnes & Nobles for a quick (yeah, right) look around. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything, but …
There was a sale table with some fancy re-publications of old classics. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of reading old literature. Not necessarily OLD literature, but literature from “before my time.” I purchased a big, leather-bound tome of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronciles, The Illustrated Man, and The Golden Apples of the Sun. The cover is artfully decorated with a fiery planet, stars, and a rocket. As you can imagine, a book including the three aforementioned collections is pretty large. So large, in fact, that when I took it out of my purse today to read it while I was waiting in the dentist’s office, my mother remarked: “I can never understand why you read such large books. It seems like work to me.” I have no understanding of how someone could consider reading as “work,” but this was coming from a woman who went to college to study numbers …
I don’t usually read short stories. I find that I cannot become invested in the characters or plot of a tale that is only 20 pages. However, I decided to give Bradbury’s short stories a chance. If his novels are so great – I assumed his short stories would be of equal quality.
I started reading The Martian Chronicles, and after about 100 pages found myself growing to like the start/stop quality of this collection. These tales of Mars are fascinating, funny, and frightening all at the same time.
I notice that I’m taking a long time to get to my point, but I always have been a little longwinded. And this is my point: If you ever decide to read a short story by Ray Bradbury, read “Usher II.” This particular short story appears in The Martian Chronicles.
“Usher II” – A man enraged with the destruction of everything fiction on Earth moves to Mars. He commissions a haunted house complete with robotic witches, ghosts, and mice. This man in completely obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and has a plan to kill the people who burned his library on Earth. Once again, I won’t ruin the ending, but please – if you like science fiction and Edgar Allen Poe – do yourself a favor, read this story, and creep yourself out!