Ray Bradbury

       The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury
The Martians discovered the secret of life among animals.  The animal does not question life.  It lives.  Its very reason for living is life; it enjoys and relishes life. ...
... the men of Mars realized that in order to survive they would have to forgo asking that one question any longer: Why live?  Life was its own answer.  Life was the propagation of more life and the living of as good a life as possible.

Book cover

Cover art by Michael Whelan
See the entire image. 

This painting was commissioned for the cover of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.  What moved me the most about the novel was the sense of inevitable tragedy that permeates the first half of the book and the weirdness of the Martian culture.  At some point in the narrative, the cities are said to be like bones; and though the phrase may have been intended as metaphor, I liked the suggestion enough to use bone-like and coral-like forms in the painting. The chief symbolic element is the trail of the descending craft from Earth, harkening back to legends of comets as harbingers of doom.  It hangs like a scimitar of death over the heads of the Martians. 

The Art of Michael Whelan 1989

"... See the broken pillars?"
"Broken? Why, I see them perfectly.  The moonlight helps.  And the pillars are upright."
"There's dust in the streets," said Tomas.
"The streets are clean!"
"The canals are empty right there."
"The canals are full of lavender wine!"
"It's dead."
"It's alive!" protested the Martian...
"There are the rockets." Tomas walked him to the the edge of the hill and pointed down.  "See?"
"Damn it, there they are! Those long silver things."
...the pillars crumbled, you say? And the sea empty, and the canals dry, and the maidens dead, and the flowers withered?"  The Martian was silent, but then he looked on ahead. "But there they are.  I see them.  Isn't that enough for me?  They wait for me now, no matter what you say."
   And for Tomas the rockets, far away, waiting for him, and the town and the women from Earth.  "We can never agree," he said.
"Let us agree to disagree," said the Martian.

August 2002: NIGHT MEETING



The so-called Eastern Hills as seen by the Spirit rover.



Updated: November 3, 2009

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