The Martian Chronicles was a revelation for me as a kid, perhaps the first truly great scifi book I ever read. Ray Bradbury’s collection of short stories was set in a future where mankind finally made its way to Mars but it showed that no matter our advances, people will never change. (That’s where I got my pessimism!)
Collected from a group of short stories Bradbury had published in the 1940s (with a few short vinnettes that tie things together) it contains a staggering number of classics, just highlights of the genre. There Will Come Soft Rains has got to be one of the most haunting stories of all time, Usher II was a tremendous crack at Poe and a look at Bradbury’s own fear of censorship, and Way In the Middle of the Air might have been one of the first stories that dealt plainly with racial predjudice I’d ever read.
It’s been 61 years since its publication (and we’ve skipped well past the year we were supposed to make it to Mars- 1999) but it’s as relevant as ever, and perhaps that’s why Paramount has optioned it for a film adaptation. The Hollywood Reporter has announced that John Davis (Predator, I, Robot) will be producing but doesn’t have much more info than that. Not even a writer has been hired just yet.
This isn’t the first adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, however, as it was released as a tv miniseries (written by Richard Matheson!) in 1980, one which Bradbury himself described as “just boring”. Bradbury hasn’t had a terrific time with his adaptations- just reminisce on The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes… A Sound of Thunder (shudder). Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 was good, at least.
This also isn’t the first time The Martian Chronicles was optioned as a feature- Steven Spielberg and Davis tried to get it off the ground in 1997 with Unviversal. The option just reverted and Paramount snatched it back up.
Let’s hope they manage to do it some justice, even though it doesn’t seem likely with a film’s short running time.
For now- boobs!