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BOOK REVIEW - RAY BRADBURY – THE SILVER LOCUSTS 1950 Grafton Books 

 

This book is often marketed as The Martian Chronicles, especially after a lacklustre TV series based on the book, starring Rock Hudson, came out in the 1970’s. Bradbury’s most poetic novel is really an intertwined series of short stories, and in fact here are several Martian stories in his various short story collections that tie in to the novel.  The premise is simple. A group of Earthlings colonize Mars, hoping to escape from the political turmoil on their own World. The story begins as the huge rockets take off and their jets actually alter the climate on Earth, making for a lovely hot day in the US known to all as ‘Rocket Summer’. The sense of pioneer spirit and cheery optimism is alas short lived. Earth itself plunges into political turmoil and heads towards nuclear war. Even on Mars, the political factionalism divides the colonists, who have taken their problems with them. Mars itself proves to be a dead world. The Martian Civilisation that left canals and cities has perished, though its ghosts still interfere with human minds from time to time. One day, the news reaches the colonists that their old world has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. Everyone on Earth is dead. There is even a touching sequence in which a robot domestic servant continues to fulfil its duties for owners who no longer exist. The closing moments of the book as set on Mars itself are touching and tend to haunt the reader forever. A young boy has constantly dreamed of seeing the Martians about who he has all sorts of romantic notions. After the destruction of Earth, the boy’s father takes him to see the Martians. He shows him a pool of water and the reflection of father and son. He tells him that these are now the Martians. Beautiful, lyrical writing underlining a basically bleak, depressing tale, but with a hope and humanity all of its own.  http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/b/ray-bradbury/martian-chronicles.htm

 

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