“Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.” -Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
In “The Martian Chronicles,” Ray Bradbury weaves together short stories into a logical progression of the invasion of another planet in the Sun’s solar system.
Additionally, as both a master storyteller and a deep thinker, Bradbury combines his unique voice and philosophical musings about what it would be like if men from Earth traveled to Mars in the near future.
My favorite chapter in the book was chapter 7, “-And the Moon Be Still As Bright,” which introduces the characters of the fourth Mars expedition: Captain Wilder, Jeff Spender, Sam Parkhill, Hathaway, and other expedition members.
Bradbury’s use of Spender, the archaeologist bent on preserving the civilization found by the explorers on Mars, and Sam Parkhill, the shallow minded New Yorker, who wants to re-create his home on Earth to be the same as what he tries to build on Mars, as contrasting voices and figures about two differing viewpoints. The moderator between these views is Captain Wilder, caught in the middle, left with the responsibility of how to lead the expedition. It is Mr. Spender who utters the words from the quote above. He speaks of the Martian civilization finding a balance between science and religion, something that has eluded the human race for the past century or more.
One viewpoint of colonization and conformity of the “other” to the conquering civilization’s ways, and the second viewpoint of honoring the past and trying to learn from what came before them, are in direct opposition.
Decades before his time in thinking, Bradbury’s contrasting ideals still oppose one another in the development of countries around the world. This is present in the contrast between Western civilization and other ancient histories that remain less developed. While these countries may not be millions of miles away like Mars, the ideals and values of these contrasting civilizations remain millions of miles away today.