The Martian Chronicles – Chapters Ten to Fifteen

Chapter Ten – The Locusts (February 2002/2033)-This story first appeared in The Martian Chronicles. This vignette concerns the swift colonization of Mars. The title refers to the rockets and settlers which quickly spread across all of Mars.

Chapter Eleven – Night Meeting (August 2002/2033)- This story first appeared in The Martian Chronicles.This story begins with a conversation between an old man and a young traveler, Tomás Gomez. The older man explains that he came to Mars because he appreciates the new and novel. Even everyday things have become amazing to him once again. He has returned full circle to his childhood. Later, Tomás encounters a Martian named Muhe Ca. Each can see the Mars he is accustomed to, in his own time frame, but the other person is transparent to him and has the appearance of a phantom. The young man sees ruins where the Martian sees a thriving city, while the Martian sees an ocean where Tomás sees the new Earth settlement. Neither knows if he precedes the other in time, but Bradbury makes the point that any one civilization is ultimately fleeting. This is the only full-length story in The Martian Chronicles which had not previously appeared in another publication.

Chapter Twelve – The Fire Balloons (November 2002/2033)- This story first appeared as “…In This Sign” in Imagination, April 1951. A missionary expedition of Episcopal priests from the United States anticipates sins unknown to them on Mars. Instead, they meet ethereal creatures glowing as blue flames in crystal spheres, who have left behind the material world, and thus have escaped sin.

This story appeared only in The Silver Locusts, the British edition of The Martian Chronicles, the 1974 edition from The Heritage Press, the September 1979 illustrated trade edition from Bantam Books, the “40th Anniversary Edition” from Doubleday Dell Publishing Group and in the 2001 Book-of-the-Month Club edition. It otherwise appeared in The Illustrated Man.

Chapter Thirteen – The Shore (October 2002/2033) – This story describes the rippling outward of colonization, the This story first wave being loner, pioneer types, and the second, also Americans, being from the “cabbage tenements and subways” of New York.

Chapter Fourteen – Interim (February 2003/2034) – This story first appeared in Weird Tales, July 1947. This story describes the building of a Martian town by colonists and how much it was made to resemble an average Midwestern American town. The town was said to have appeared to have been swept up by a tornado on Earth, and brought to Mars.

Chapter Fifteen – The Musicians (April 2003/2034)- This story first appeared in The Martian Chronicles. Several boys venture into the ruins of the Martian cities. They go into the houses and play with the debris, imagining that they are on earth, playing with the autumn leaves. Added onto their fun is their chance to play on the “white xylophones”—the ribcages of the Martians. They have a sense of urgency because soon the firemen will take all of their fun away. The firemen are the men who go and clean up the remains of Martians in the ruined cities.

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Nine – The Green Morning (December 2001/2032)

“The Green Morning” first appeared in The Martian Chronicles. The next several chapters describe the transformation of Mars into another Earth. Small towns similar to those on Earth begin to grow. In “The Green Morning”, one man, Benjamin Driscoll, makes it his mission to plant thousands of trees on the red plains so oxygen levels will increase. Due to some property of the Martian soil, the trees he plants grow into a mighty forest in a single night.

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Eight – The Settlers (August 2001/2032)

In chapter eight,”The Settlers”, Spender returns to the rest of the expedition. He carries a gun and shoots six of his crew-mates, saying he is the last Martian. Captain Wilder approaches under a white flag and has a short discussion with Spender during which the archaeologist explains that if he manages to kill off the expedition it may delay human colonization of the planet for a few more years, possibly long enough that the expected nuclear war on Earth will protect Mars from human colonization completely. Although he opposes Spender’s methods, Captain Wilder somewhat agrees with his attitude towards colonization and wishes for him a humane death. He returns to the others and joins them as they pursue Spender, and Wilder shoots Spender in the chest during the fight before he has the opportunity to be killed by anyone else.

The captain later knocks out the teeth of Parkhill, another expedition member, when he disrespectfully damages some Martian glass structures while “target practicing.” Many of the characters of the Fourth Expedition — Parkhill, Captain Wilder, and Hathaway — re-appear in later stories. This is also the first story that displays a central theme of The Martian Chronicles. It acts as a commentary on the Western frontier of the United States and its colonization, using the colonization of Mars as the analogy. Like Spender, Bradbury’s message is that some types of colonization are right and others are wrong. Trying to recreate Earth is viewed as wrong, but an approach that respects the fallen civilization that is being replaced is right.

In the previously mentioned version, this short story describes the first settlers coming to Mars, the Lonely Ones, the ones that came to start over on the planet. It first appeared in The Martian Chronicles.

Mission to Berlin: The American Airmen Who Struck the Heart of Hitler’s Reich

Robert F. Dorr’s “Mission to Berlin” documents the mission that took place on February 3, 1945 to bomb Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany.  The author does a very skilful job of telling the stories of the men who flew on it. He shares the incredible story of American fearlessness in the last months of World War II. The size of the air battle challenges our belief as in excess of 1,000 bombers and multiple-hundreds of fighter aircraft originating from Allied bases journey to the heart of Nazi Germany. You also get a good overview and understanding of the structure and operations of the United States Eighth Air Force.

Author Robert F. Dorr gives a detailed report of its evolution. He takes us from the pre-takeoff preparation and activities to the concluding landing.  The book is well paced. The basic structure of the book is spellbinding narrative. The storyline presents a mesmerizing description of many of the aviators on this historic mission. His use of primary source references such as first person interviews and personal letters adds warmth and the human touch to the narrative.

I found the way Mr. Dorr combines his interviews and letters with the detailed duties of each member of the crew a great way to explain the duties and procedures of the B-17 crew. The way he tells the story you feel as if you are there from take off to landing seeing the point of view of each member of the crew. He does an amazing job of drawing the reader into the life of the crew. This alone is reason to read the book.

Another reason to read the book includes the good picture of how the war affected the young crews, the technical side of the B-17 and its development and deployment as well as the evolution of fighting strategies. It was fascinating to see the change in philosophy as to the use of the fighters and to see how the Thunderbolts and especially the P-51s made a great difference in the  survival rates of the B-17s once they were able to escort all the way to Berlin.

I enjoyed the appendix that explained “What Happened to Them?” It told us of what key personalities mentioned in the book did after the war. It was a pleasant addition to the book.

This is an outstanding book.  Every World War II buff as well as aviation enthusiast will want it in their library. This is the second book I have read written by Robert F. Dorr. The first was “Hell Hawks!” which I also strongly recommend.  Zenith Press is the publisher.

Poem: A Wonderful Evening

A Wonderful Evening

A wonderful evening
Is coming soon
A special fellow
The stars and moon

He’ll touch your hand
And hold you close
Walking on beach sand
Handing you a rose

He’ll brush your hair
Away from your face
You know he cares
Your dream white lace

Spending time together
But it goes so fast
In all kinds of weather
Wishing forever it’ll last

But life’s not fair
Someday it will end
You won’t be there
For himself he’ll fend.

Jimmie A. Kepler
© 2009

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Seven – And the Moon Be Still as Bright (June 2001/2032)

“And the Moon Be Still as Bright”  was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1948. The next chapter opens with the men of the Fourth Expedition gathering firewood against the cold Martian evening. The scientists have found that all of the Martians have died of chickenpox (brought by one of the first three expeditions) — analogous to the devastation of Native American populations by smallpox. The men, except for the archaeologist Spender and Captain Wilder, become more boisterous. Spender loses his temper when one of his crew-mates starts dropping empty wine bottles into a clear blue canal. He knocks him into the canal. When questioned by his captain, Spender replies “We’ll rip it up, rip the skin off, and change it to fit ourselves…We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things,” referring to Earth. He leaves the rest of the landing party to explore Martian ruins.

Note that, in some editions of the collection, the two stories relating to Jeff Spender have been combined as one.The two collections are chapters seven and eight.

Poem: The World Spinning

The World Spinning

The world continues spinning every day,
And seasons keep changing along the way,
We miss our old friends from times long past by
Sometimes we reflect, their memories making us cry.

At times we find the solitude is just too great.
We shutter when we think our future is left to fate
Confusion visits and we ask “What are we going to do?”
The world starts spinning as life feels like one big zoo.

Round and round the circle revolves more and more,
We always wonder “What does our future hold in store?”
And we speculate “Will he or she again come our way?
All knowing God alone is the one who can say.

Sometimes we live too much in our memories
Old times over and over  in our mind’s eye we see
Dreaming of spending time with old friends and lovers
Always fantasizing of the old feelings to rediscover

We speculate in the car, on the train, and in the bus,
Do our former friends and lovers ever think of us?
If the good old days are just that and all living was behind
Still I pray and I think I’ll just ask God for a sign.

May tomorrow will be a special and a bright day
As we progress down life’s never-ending highway
I hope your life’s journey is going great
And if God’s will, may our paths cross at a future date.

Copyright © 2008
Written by Jimmie A. Kepler

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Six – The Third Expedition (April 2000/2031)

The Third Expedition was first published as “Mars is Heaven!” in Planet Stories, Fall 1948. The arrival and demise of the third group of Americans to land on Mars is described by this story. This time the Martians are prepared for the Earthlings. When the crew arrives, they see a typical town of the 1920s filled with the long-lost loved ones of the astronauts. Captain John Black tells his crew to stay in the rocket. The crew are so happy to see their dead family members that they ignore their captain’s orders and join their supposed family members. The Martians use the memories of the astronauts to lure them into their “old” houses where they are killed in the middle of the night by the Martians themselves. The next morning, sixteen coffins exit sixteen houses and are buried.

The original short story was set in the 1960s and dealt with characters nostalgic for their childhoods in the Midwestern United States in the 1920s. In the Chronicles version, which takes place forty years later but which still relies upon 1920s nostalgia, the story contains a brief paragraph about medical treatments that slow the aging process, so that the characters can be traveling to Mars in the 2000s but still remember the 1920s.

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Five – The Taxpayer (March 2000/2031)

Chapter five, The Taxpayer, first appeared in The Martian Chronicles. A man insists that he has a right to be let onto the next rocket to Mars, because he is a taxpayer. He insists on being let on the ship so strongly because the Earth will be having a great atomic war soon, and no one wants to be around when it happens. He is not allowed on the ship and eventually gets taken away by the police.

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Four: The Earth Men (August 1999/2030)

Chapter Four – The Earth Men (August 1999/2030) was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1948. This story tells of the “Second Expedition” to Mars. The astronauts arrive to find the Martians to be strangely unresponsive to their presence. The one exception to this is a group of Martians in a building who greet them with a parade. Several of the Martians in the building claim to be from Earth or from other planets of the solar system, and the captain slowly realizes that the Martian gift for telepathy allows others to view the hallucinations of the insane, and that they have been placed in an insane asylum. The Martians they have encountered all believed that their unusual appearance was a projected hallucination. Because the “hallucinations” are so detailed and the captain refuses to admit he is not from Earth, Mr. Xxx, a psychiatrist, declares him incurable and kills him. When the “imaginary” crew does not disappear as well, Mr. Xxx shoots and kills them. Finally, as the “imaginary” rocket remains in existence, Mr. Xxx concludes that he too must be crazy and shoots himself. The ship of the Second Expedition is sold as scrap at a junkyard.