Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Martian Chronicles – The Illustrated Man – The Golden Apples of the Sun – Book Review


Author – Ray Bradbury

A review of The Martian Chronicles – The Illustrated Man – The Golden Apples of the Sun

The three titles packed together in this thick book are the first I’ve read of Mr. Bradbury.  The cover art caught my eye and the top title ‘The Martian Chronicles’ to be interesting for a soul such as mine that has a tendency to devour science fiction.  I read ‘The Martian Chronicles’ in a moderate time and was at first struggling to adjust to a series of short stories that it actually was.  As I read it wasn’t long before I enjoyed reading what a 1950s author thought of space travel and its Martian implications.  I moved onto ‘The Illustrated Man’ but within four of those short stories I promptly tossed in back onto the shelf to accumulate a mini mountain of dust.  I had grown tired of short stories in my early time being a full time reader; I had and still do much to learn about reading.  It takes time and brain pain sometimes to read but later I’d learn that completing any book is an experience you can grab a hold of in times where you may otherwise feel regretful of how life is going.

                The book stared at me for months as I distanced myself from books until I finally obstructed it’s vision of me by leaving my closet door open against the bookshelf, quite an evil deed.  This new year of 2013 emerged from the future as I had already been dragged back into the world of my mind.  Books have a way of bringing you back if you leave the door open but a crack.  It took about nine months since I last read this collection of Mr. Bradbury’s but I had a whole new appreciation for the stories.  It felt to me as I read each story, as fast as my fingers could turn the pages that each story was like viewing a photo album.  A photo album shows you a certain time, place and experience within it much the way I accepted each short story having its own tale.  If you don’t prefer short stories then it’ll be a chore to read any of this. 

Short Stories
When I first began reading these stories in ‘The Martian Chronicles’ I had never read short stories much and was very accustomed to reading novels, my lack of reading prowess failed me.  In my early era of reading I’ve grown fond of single story novels not that I limit myself to said books now but when I began Bradbury’s short stories I hated being sucked into a ten page group of intrigue only to have it come to an end.  In reading a book such as this I recommend coming to terms that it’s meant to be short.  That probably seems obvious but I overlooked it and it tormented me.  The stories can end quickly and sometimes leaving you scratching your head but the upside is a new one can begin right after.  The majority of the stories are fantastic for a science fiction mind however anybody could find a story or two to admire.  I came back to this behemoth of a book due in large part that I found myself writing short stories and rather enjoying it, figure that one.  My perception has changed about this book and for the greater good of my soul.

The Martian Chronicles
There are some interesting views on what Mars could be used for in mankind’s future and Bradbury brings to light many of them.  I would rather avoid opening the book for you and telling you what this brilliant author concocted oh so many years ago so I won’t.  I will say it’s well written which is what readers want to know.  The idea of space travel, particularly to other planets, is unknown to us.  We know we can go to space but what is Mars like or Venus?  How many other galaxies are there, truly?  The stories in this book whip up some notions of what it is by planting that seed.  Whenever I hear the word Mars now my mind twists and turns to recall a story from this book as my base understanding of the planet, how many other books claim that?  One story I’d recommend is ‘The Earth Men’. 

The Illustrated Man
The stories within this book differ on topic and aren’t limited to space travel or Mars.  A witch tattoos a man with some questionable ink thus showing whoever casts eyes upon him to see a most unsettling story.  I like the idea of this main story that starts and concludes this book.  ‘The Long Rain’ is one of my favorites but there are many that succeed.  The stories jump around a bit topic wise so you’re not set on any one area.

The Golden Apples of the Sun
In my mind I thought this would be a slow struggling read.  It happens to us all from time to time right?  Before we begin a book we have that intuition that it’s going to be lackluster or a failure.  My brain chose this one but it was wrong again, surprise.  It does start off uninteresting with some of the stories ending before you really understand what was going on.  It does pick up and before you know it your fingers are working then begging for a massage.  Some that I liked, ‘The Murderer’, ‘Sun and Shadow’, ‘R is for Rocket’, ‘Frost and Ice’ and ‘Chrysalis’.  There are plenty more that really entertain and if I had to pick one of these it would be ‘Frost and Ice’.  Out of the three books here I’d save this one for last so you’re guaranteed a satisfactory conclusion to your read.