The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ray Bradbury is an excellent writer. No doubt about it. This is only the second book I've ready by him, first work of fiction (correct, that means I still have not read Farenheit 451--something I must correct in the immediate future), but already I can tell that he is one of the talented hard-working writers who has made the most of himself and his abilities.
The Martian Chronicles is indeed, as he claimed in Zen in the Art of Writing, an "accidental novel." Really, it is a collection of short stories in the truest sense of "collection": every story belongs with the other; they are arranged in an artful, chronological manner whereby each story relates to its predecessor and successor but can be read and appreciated just as easily on its own; each story tells its own, well, story, but the collection as a whole tells its own broader story, as well. It is that last quality that makes it a novel, as well, accidental or otherwise.
As with any collection, there were a few stories in here that I didn't love, and a few that I adored. "Usher II" in particular was a brilliant blend of science fiction and horror and witty literary references, all of which I appreciated immensely.
Typically, I don't read science fiction, and certainly not fiction that is about aliens and planetary travel. Somehow, however, Bradbury made this book more about humanity and perception than about Martians and Mars themselves, and so I enjoyed this book much more than I had anticipated.
Now, it's time for me to go read Farenheit 451. Really, it's past time.
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