Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Twelve: The Fire Balloons

Chapter Twelve – The Fire Balloons – 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 with blue flames in crystal spheres, who have left the material world, and thus have escaped sin.

This story appeared in six editions of The Martian Chronicles. It was in The Silver Locusts, the British edition of The Martian Chronicles. The 1974 edition from The Heritage Press has it. 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 has it. It otherwise appeared in The Illustrated Man.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story advances from November 2002 to 2033.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Eleven: Night Meeting

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 anyone civilization is ultimately fleeting. “Night Meeting” is the only full-length story in The Martian Chronicles which had not previously appeared in another publication.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story advances from 2002 to 2033.

NASA chooses UT Arlington team to develop potential Mars mission technology – News Center – UT Arlington

NASA chooses UT Arlington team to develop potential Mars mission technology – News Center – UT Arlington.

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Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Nine: The Green Morning

“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.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story advances from 2001 to 2032.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Eight: The Settlers

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 can 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.

“The Settlers” is 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 before 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.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. “The Settlers” date advances from 2001 to 2032.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Seven: And the Moon Be Still as Bright

“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 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 about Jeff Spender have been combined as one.The two collections are chapters seven and eight.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story is advanced from 2001 to 2032.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Six: The Third Expedition

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 has 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.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story is advanced from 2000 to 2031.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Five: The Taxpayer

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.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story is advanced from 2000 to 2031.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Four: The Earth Men

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 met 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.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years from 1999 to 2030.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Two: Ylla

First published as “I’ll Not Ask for Wine” in Maclean’s, January 1, 1950.

The following chapter, “Ylla”, moves the story to Mars.

Who is Ylla? She is a Martian woman trapped in an unromantic marriage. She dreams of the coming astronauts through telepathy. Her husband, though he pretends to deny her dreams are real, becomes bitterly jealous, sensing his wife’s inchoate romantic feelings for one of the astronauts.

He kills the two-man expedition, astronauts Nathaniel York and one simply called Bert, as soon as they arrive.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years from 1999 to 2030.