Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles: A Radio Dramatization

  • by Ray Bradbury
  • Narrated by The Colonial Radio Players
  • 5 hrs and 34 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

Publisher's Summary

The people of Earth are preparing for war - a war that could potentially destroy the planet. Explorers are sent to Mars to find a new place for humans to colonize. Bradbury's Mars is a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor - of crystal pillars and fossil seas - where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn - first a trickle, then a torrent, rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars... and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.
The Martian Chronicles is presented here as a full-cast audio production with an original music score and thousands of sound effects by the award winning Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air. It marks their fourth collaboration with one of the most celebrated fiction writers of our time: Ray Bradbury.

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Customer Reviews

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A reminder of how good it is

Would you consider the audio edition of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles: A Radio Dramatization to be better than the print version?

Not so much better as different in a good way. A lot of it does benefit from being read out loud, and some of the musical accompaniment is very welcome. The sound effects are a bit old fashioned, not to say cheesy, but I loved them.
Some of the narration and musing is very reminiscent of the film version* of The Haunting of Hill House, which makes it feel old fashioned in a good way.
There are some moments that are somewhat diminished. The closing moments of And The Moon Be Still As Bright, in which Parkhill uses the exquisite Martian buildings for target practice and Captain Wilder responds by knocking his teeth out, work SO much better as two lines of narration rather than dialogue and a punching sound, as it is presented here. And one of my favourite stories of all time, There Will Come Soft Rains, has no narration here - if I wasn't familiar with it, I doubt I would know what was going on; also, it loses one of the most harrowing images in 50s science fiction.
But far more is conveyed than lost.
My personal recommendation is to familiarise yourself with the unabridged book (if you are not already familiar with it), then leave it a few months, and come back to this dramatisation.

*There is only one film version despite the mass delusion that there was a remake starring Catherine Zeta Jones.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Probably Captain Wilder. He sympathises with Spender's idealistic view of the Martians, but has the sense not to kill people over it; his integrity does his career no favours, but at least his conscience is clear.


Have you listened to any of The Colonial Radio Players’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have not. They certainly work well in this adaptation because the book is meant to have a lyrical, fairy-tale quality. I don't know what they'd be like with a gritty piece of realism, but I'd be interested to find out.


If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Oh, I'd give it some lame tag line that would put off everybody except hardcore Bradbury fans - and probably most of them too. "Welcome to the Mars of future past."
I understand they are making a film, but doubt they could make a really faithful. The TV miniseries had its moments but they couldn't handle the idea of having no central character, so Rock Hudson was everybody.


Any additional comments?

There were a few decisions I would not have made myself. For one, the chronology follows the revised version - 1999 got changed to 2030, and so on, which seems pointless as we already know Mars is not really like the Mars in the book, a lot of the language is of its time (spaceships are called rockets and everyone fears an atomic war) and the extra three decades detract from the nostalgia for the time the book was written.
Both Usher II and The Fire Balloons feature in this version. Neither fit terribly well in my opinion. Meanwhile The One With The N Word (not its actual title!) is not in it, presumably because Bradbury's criticism of racism was misinterpreted, hence its removal from some book editions.
Also, I've always had problems with [spoiler] everyone abandoning Mars after the atomic devastation. "Earth needs us!" seems to be the only motivation for going back, but surely a sizeable portion of the population would remain in their new home. Finally, the closing story, The Million Year Picnic, ends on a really twee note - I don't understand why so many people quote it as if it were the most insightful scene in all of science fiction.
But apart from that, it's a lovely book, and this is a lovely interpretation of it.

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- Dr Caterpillar

Not for me

Would you try another book written by Ray Bradbury or narrated by The Colonial Radio Players?

I have read other Ray Bradbury books - Something Wicked This Way Comes was excellent, but I think the dramatisation just didn't work for me. There were also some really annoying sound effects.


What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

It's an interesting concept and it was probably just that I wasn't in the mood for a more philosophical story.


How did the narrator detract from the book?

Not sure if it was the narration - which was done by actors, or just that the characters bugged me! Probably unfair to say the narration was poor, but I didn't enjoy the story being done as a radio play.


If this book were a film would you go see it?

Yes I think I would be able to deal with the subject matter better if I could see it rather than hear it.


Any additional comments?

I'm sure I read this story a long time ago and didn't get annoyed by it, so I think perhaps I just don't like dramatised versions.

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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-06-2011
  • Publisher: The Colonial Radio Theatre on Brilliance Audio