Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book Thoughts: The Martian Chronicles

I finally got around to reading this after having it on my kindle for quite a while. It is a story that is very much a dim view of the future from the 1950s Cold War perspective. Many short stories are strung together to create this small book about going to Mars. It has a lot to say on matters of the then current world much like any science fiction does but it is not cheerful or optimistic.

Something about it kept me coming back to keep reading through it even though there is rarely a sense of hope throughout the book. The Martians start off as really no better than humans, the humans no different than they've always been, and after a bit the Martian are all almost wiped to extinction by the unknown germs brought from earth making them the Native Americans to the Earth men's Europeans. However, as the book progresses we find that most people who have settled Mars have come for the same reasons settlers came to America and yet after all those history lessons they didn't do much better. When war breaks out back on Earth most people head back home leaving Mars a forgotten wasteland of unfulfilled potential and a devastated Martian people. Everything seems all for naught in this book which is why I can't decide if ultimately I liked it or not, but odds are I will read through it again which says a lot. At the very least it has the beautiful poem by Sara Teasdale about the indifference nature would have on the extinction of mankind:

There Will Come Soft Rains
by Sara Teasdale (1920)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

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