VII TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What elements of the book make Mars seem realistic? What elements make it seem fantastic?
2. Why do most of the settlers choose to return to an Earth ravaged by nuclear war?
3. Do you sympathize with the Martians when they react with hostility toward the earliest delegates from Earth? Why or why not?
4. Why do you think Spender feels compelled to kill his companions in “And the Moon Be Still As Bright”? How feasible is his plan of slowing-and eventually halting-the space program? Why, despite all that he has heard, is the captain willing to kill Spender? Is this story a turning point in The Martian Chronicles?
5. What is the significance of the names given to towns, rivers, and cemeteries in “The Naming of Names”?
6. Who is the most fully drawn Martian character in the book? Who is the most fully drawn human character? Are the two characters at all similar?
7. Discuss the role of nostalgia in “The Third Expedition” and “The Martian.” What is Bradbury saying about people’s attachment to the past in these stories?
VIII IDEAS FOR REPORTS AND PAPERS
1. Read Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and compare his vision of censorship in that novel with the ideas in “Usher II.”
2. Bradbury connected the longer stories in The Martian Chronicles by means of short, transitional passages. Choose one of these short pieces and expand it into a full-length short story.
3. In The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury has attempted to craft a coherent history of Martian colonization. Analyze Bradbury’s book as a historical work. Is it internally consistent? What information does he leave out that you would most like to know? You may wish to evaluate his practice of affixing dates to each piece, and his habit of referring to characters and events from earlier stories in later pieces.
4. The Martian Chronicles was written almost two decades before the first astronauts landed on the moon. Although Bradbury is deliberately vague on the subject of technology, he does describe some futuristic devices in his stories. List some of the features of the first rocket ships to Mars as described in “The Earth Men,” “The Third Expedition,” and “And The Moon Be Still As Bright,” and compare these ships with the first moon rockets.
5. Many critics have called Bradbury’s writing style poetic. Choose one of your favorite passages in The Martian Chronicles and write a poem inspired by the images and ideas in Bradbury’s prose.
A television miniseries version of The Martian Chronicles, starring Rock Hudson, appeared on NBC in 1980. The six-hour series, directed by Michael Anderson, covered only a few of the book’s stories, and was plagued by a low budget, mediocre special effects, and poor pacing.