Friday, October 7, 2016

Bradbury 31, Day 7: The Martian Chronicles

Published in 1950, The Martian Chronicles was the first of several books by Ray Bradbury where he compiled various short stories of his into a novel, fashioning bridging material between chapters, revising various details and creating new chapters entirely. It welded together many of the short stories he had written about Mars through the 1940s, developing from it an engaging tale of how humanity would colonize Mars. It was (and is) a celebrated novel with a radio adaptation appearing the same year on Dimension X. Naturally they had to condense many of the details to fit a half-hour, but some of the best moments of the book can be found there; listen to it yourself at by clicking here.

In 1980 The Martian Chronicles became a made-for-TV movie starring Rock Hudson, likely getting off the ground because of the fascination with science fiction following the success of Star Wars in 1977. Bradbury didn't think too highly of this adaptation but I found it serviceable; it's probably the only attempt at telling the whole book through live action media I'll see in my lifetime. Anyway, the Martian costumes looked unique.

In 2011, Ray Bradbury authorized a full-colour full-length comic book adaptation by artist Dennis Calero. It omitted various tales which had been dropped from The Martian Chronicles reprints over the decades (such as "Usher II") but otherwise, everything is there; and yet, it's not entirely satisfying. Calero is capable of fine work, but the entire book feels rushed. The colors lack subtlety and instead make Calero's lines look simple and half-finished, as though it were produced in MS Paint. It tells the story accurately - that's the best thing I can say about it. If only the cover matched the interior!

I'll visit more stories from The Martian Chronicles as the month continues. There will be more Ray Bradbury tomorrow!

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