New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1950. First edition. Hardcover. This inscribed and jacketed first edition of Bradbury’s first major work and enduring classic, The Martian Chronicles, is inked in blue in four lines on the title page: "BILL! | BEST FROM | RAY BRADBURY | OCT. 1966". First edition is so stated on the copyright page. Condition is good plus in a good plus dust jacket. The first edition’s pale green cloth binding proved notoriously prone to toning and discoloration. This copy is square and tight with sharp corners and only trivial wrinkling to spine ends, but nonetheless modestly toned to the spine and also showing some mild staining to the boards, primarily at the midpoint of the spine and the rear cover. The contents are clean with no previous ownership marks apart from the author’s signature. Trivial spotting appears confined to a few spots on the fore and bottom edges and at the lower rear endpaper verso and pastedown.
The dust jacket is complete, with no appreciable loss and retaining the original “$2.50” price on the upper front flap. The spine is modestly toned and we note mild wear to extremities, hinges, and flap folds. The chief detraction is spotting and staining to the jacket verso, which permeated the jacket and is visible primarily on the white rear panel and flaps. Fortunately, the hues and design of the jacket’s spine and front face make the staining unobtrusive. The dust jacket is now protected beneath a removable, archival quality clear cover.
The Martian Chronicles was Bradbury’s first major work, a collection of short stories, some of which had been previously published in magazines. Bradbury paints a compelling vision of a Mars that was, supplanted by a Mars that humans colonized and squandered, and thereafter the intimation of a Mars that might be, all of this a backdrop for the destructive energies and perennial seeds of hope endemic to humanity. Since 1950, the learned realities of a far more sterile Mars than Bradbury imagined for us have not diminished Bradbury’s tale.
A quarter of a century after it was published, Martin Gardner wrote: “Critics have said it is Bradbury’s best book because there is more science in it than in his other books. I believe the opposite to be true… That is not a weakness… That is why, long after Mars has become a hearth to us, The Martian Chronicles will keep on stirring imaginations, arousing laughter and tears, and haunting the minds of those who have not forgotten how to read.” More than half a century after publication, in 2008, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander carried a DVD containing The Martian Chronicles to the Martian surface.
Ray Douglas Bradbury (1920-2012) was a versatile and prolific American author best known for his science fiction. Bradbury devoted several hours a day to writing throughout his life and produced nearly 30 books, 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, screenplays, and plays. The Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and Bradbury's first remuneration for writing came from a joke he wrote for George Burns. His first story was published in 1938, the year he graduated from high school. The following year he published four issues of his own magazine, writing all of the content, sometimes under pseudonyms to hide the fact that it was a one-man operation.
Rejected for military service in WWII because of poor eyesight, Bradbury became a full-time writer in 1943. He continued to publish until his final years, earning a host of accolades from both fans and fellow writers. The Science Fiction Writers of America named him their 10th Grand Master in 1989. An asteroid is named after him, and a crater on the Moon is named after his novel Dandelion Wine. In 2007, Bradbury received a special citation from the Pulitzer board for his "distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” His New York Times obituary called Bradbury "the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream." Item #004652