Readers' Guide: Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Category: SCIENCE FICTION
Guide Created By: Nellie Vrolyk
Discussion Leader(s): Nellie Vrolyk
Read our archived discussion of this book
Guide DescriptionRay Bradbury's Mars is a place of beauty and hope and a mirror that shows us both our worst and our best sides.
Background InformationBradbury's Mars is a place of hope, dreams and metaphor - of crystal pillars and fossil seas - where a fine dust settles on the great, empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn - first a trickle, then a torrent, rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars...and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.
Russell Kirk feels that the greatest strength of The Martian Chronicles is its ability to make us look closely at ourselves. In Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormality in Literature and Politics, Kirk states: "What gives [The Martian Chronicles] their cunning is ... their portrayal of human nature, in all its baseness and all its promise, against an exquisite stageset. We are shown normality, the permanent things in human nature, by the light of another world; and what we forget about ourselves in the ordinariness of our routine of existence suddenly bursts upon us as a fresh revelation.... Bradbury's stories are not an escape from reality; they are windows looking upon enduring reality."
QuestionsDo rockets really change the weather?
Do the Martians seem 'human' to you?
Are there signs that the Martians might be telepaths?
What do you think of the Martian's disninterest in those from Earth?
Are you surprised at the Earth-like village?
Do you see a similarity between the effect of chicken pox on the Martians and the effect of small pox on the aboriginal Americans?
Why does Spender call himself the Last Martian?
What thoughts went through your mind as you read of Biggs throwing the empty beer bottles into the canal?
Is Benjamin Driscoll the Martian version of Johnny Appleseed?
Who is the real ghost: Tomas or the Martian?
Were you surprised to learn that there were still Martians around?
Why are people not surprised at seeing long lost loved ones?
Is what Father Peregrine says true: that we don't believe in things that happen far away?
Would you have gone back to Earth knowing there was a nuclear war going on?
Additional Questions from our ParticipantsIs it Bradbury's intention to give these aliens the same emotions and frailties that we possess? ALF
Does Bradbury presume that in reading of their shortcomings we might well see our own? ALF
Have the three Earth expeditions threatened Mars so that it has changed to meet the challenge? Ginny
Is the average Martian eager to meet them (Earthmen) or even believe in their existence? HarrietM
How did our new Johnny Appleseed engineer the growth of the trees and the oxygenated enrichment of the Martian athmosphere so quickly? HarrietM
The Martian: What is the nature of the Martian that appears in this story? HarrietM