Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation (2011)

Author: Ray Bradbury | Illustrators: Dennis Calero / Joe St. Pierre / Josh Adams / James Smith | Page Count: 160

"All the things which had uses.  All the mountains which had names.  We'll give them new names, but the old names are there, somewhere in time..."

A comic book adaptation of one of Bradbury’s most famous works.  I'm not going to give a synopsis of story or outline specific themes.  I’ll leave that for when I revisit the novel.  This is about the comic version only, and it’ll be brief because I wouldn't recommend a reading to anyone who isn't a huge Bradbury fan.

For those that haven’t read the source text, an introduction from the author details the genesis of the original novel, which is vital information if you’re to understand the passage of time and the contradictions in some of the stories.
What it neglects to mention, however, is that the adaptation is incomplete.  It wouldn't have been possible to fit every story into the limited page count but some of the exclusions are essential, defining parts of the overall work and their removal weakens it.  For those that care, the omissions are:

The Taxpayer / The Locusts / The Shore / The Fire Balloons / The Wilderness Way up in the Middle of the Air / The Naming of Names / Usher II / The Old Ones / The Luggage Store / The Silent Towns / The Long Years / There Will Come Soft Rains

Note: Red text denotes stories that are either absent from some editions of the original novel or have been replaced by one of the others for various reasons.

The artwork pendulums from merely adequate to mildly awful.  The limited colours, the deep Martian reds and browns, were expected but the lifelessness of the characters, the lack of singular identity in many of the protagonists was definitely not.  Pilots, explorers, settlers and home-makers should be starkly different in their approach to the new World but, with a few well-rounded exceptions, those qualities were lost somewhere along the way.
The highlight of the book is the final chapter / story.  It retains some of the weight, the poignancy and the poetic tragedy that’s missing from all the others.

Fans of the novel, beware.  This is a pale imitation.  It’s a shadow cast on a hollow wall.  Its intentions are good but it delivers bitter disappointment.  Although, thankfully, it uses the original timeline, not the ridiculous revised ’97 version.

2 Hammer Horror stars out of 5

This wasn't the only attempt at adapting TMC.  A TV Miniseries surfaced in 1980, with similar results.  You can read about it HERE on one of our sister sites, Nut Box.

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