The Martian Chronicles presents a series of connected tales ranging in time from January 1999 to October 2026. Most of the stories are set on Mars, although some-“Rocket Summer,” which opens the collection, “Way In the Middle of the Air,” and “There Will Come Soft Rains”-are set on Earth. Bradbury’s Mars is shaped by the preconceptions of the astronauts and settlers who explore it; they project their fantasies upon the landscape, and create a world that will help them recall the one they have left behind. But despite the new settlements (built of Oregon pine and California redwood) and the new names (Iron Town, Grain Villa, Detroit II), the land remains inescapably alien.

Most of the native Martians are killed off early in the book by a chicken pox epidemic, carried over by the first waves of explorers. However, the traces of Martian civilization that remain-a few representatives of a near-vanished race, and their legacy, the beautiful shells of once-vital cities-constantly remind the visitors from Earth that they must adapt, rather than impose, patterns of behavior if they are to survive on this alien world.

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