Monday, 19 August 2013

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

This was the first book of Ray Bradbury I ever read, in summer of 1977. (I discovered many other things that summer: ABBA, Livin’ Blues, Alexander Galich and One Hundred Years of Solitude, to name a few.) A former student of my mum gave me Марсианские хроники to read. He suggested me to draw an illustration for each chapter. So I did. I don’t think any of these have survived. I remember that I gave the drawing for The Green Morning to the owner of the book. Doesn’t matter: I know that The Martian Chronicles are illustrated by me.

I just found out from Wikipedia that the 1997 edition of the book moved all the dates forward by 31 years. That doesn’t sound right. In the original Bradbury calendar, today is already The Off Season (Мёртвый сезон).

I came to identify Fuerteventura with Bradbury’s Mars. Especially when the calima was blowing. Now I am back to Earth. There are rivers and lakes and forests, with berries and mushrooms. It is raining every other day and I don’t have to sweep red sand from the patio. They say it can be a lot of snow in winter. It is all familiar but feels a bit weird.

“I made up my mind when I came here last year I wouldn’t expect nothing, nor ask nothing, nor be surprised at nothing. We’ve got to forget Earth and how things were. We’ve got to look at what we’re in here, and how different it is. I get a hell of a lot of fun out of just the weather here. It’s Martian weather. Hot as hell daytimes, cold as hell nights. I get a big kick out of the different flowers and different rain.”
“I’m not surprised at anything any more,” said the old man. “I’m just looking. I’m just experiencing. If you can’t take Mars for what she is, you might as well go back to Earth. Everything’s crazy up here, the soil, the air, the canals, the natives (I never saw any yet, but I hear they’re around), the clocks. Even my clock acts funny. Even time is crazy up here. Sometimes I feel I’m here all by myself, no one else on the whole damn planet. I’d take bets on it.”
August 2002: Night Meeting

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