Ray Bradbury on Mars

 2008 10 Space-Special Descent-615
Science fiction pioneer Ray Bradbury, author of the Martian Chronicles, wrote the foreword to the recent special "space" issue of National Geographic. Bradbury wrote about Mars ('natch). From his essay:
In 1976 I was invited to stay overnight at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, waiting for news to come back from the Viking 1 lander, which was going to touch down on Mars and take photographs.

It was incredibly exciting to be there, surrounded by engineers, waiting for the first pictures. There was a tall gentleman standing next to me, who I thought looked familiar. At last I realized it was none other than Wernher von Braun, the man who had fled Germany for America to become the co-inventor of the rocket that took us to the moon and that was now taking us to the planets.

Early in the morning the photographs began to arrive. I could hardly believe I was seeing the surface of Mars! At 9:00 a.m., ABC television put me on the air to get my reaction.

The interviewer said, "Mr. Bradbury, how do you feel about this landing? Where are the Martian cities and where are all the living beings?"

"Don't be a fool," I said. "WE are the Martians! We're going to be here for the next million years. At long last, WE ARE MARTIANS!"

That was the end of the interview.
Ray Bradbury's "My Mars"


  1. That picture is so cool. and I like Ray Bradbury.

    My most fave sci-fi novel of all time will ALWAYS be “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Heinlein– when is Hollywood ever going to adapt that?

  2. @ #2 – Never, I hope. Have you seen what butchery was done to Starship Troopers? Or did you actually like it?

  3. “I like to think of the cosmos as a theater, yet a theater cannot exist without an audience, to witness and to celebrate. Robot craft and mighty telescopes will continue to show us unimaginable wonders.”

    I’m no believer, but thoughts like that make me happy to be alive and conscious in the way that I am. Other thoughts generally don’t.

    @JJasper, I liked the movie adaptation of Starship Troopers. I thought it was an interesting perspective on the book, exploring the concept of ‘happy fascism’ which I took away to be one of the main themes of the book.

  4. My pop says von Braun was an unrepentant Nazi and a man who sacrificed whatever moral values he might once have had to pursue his obsession with rockets. He says every denunciation of the Reich that vB ever made was strictly PR for self-preservation.

    And the old man met vB several times, I might add.

    Dad says that the US military cleaned up von Braun’s past by destroying Nazi records, in order to put an easily manageable scientist in charge of the US rocket program, because the best US rocket experts were either classic absent-minded professor types or had extremely wacky personal lives and thus were considered unreliable by the generals.


    Believe it or don’t… but check out European data on how vB “incentivized” the untermenschen slave laborers at Peenemunde before you make up your mind. Funny how there aren’t any records to be found in the USA about that stuff; the Nazis were such meticulous record keepers.


    Fact: Wernher von Braun was an SS Major who lived in luxury and hunted pheasant while at least one captured US citizen and many German and French slave laborers died in his rocket factories. These people were considered expendable because they were black or jewish. von Braun never suffered in any way for the 25,000 people he sacrificed to build weapons for the Reich.

  5. “..Werner von Braun, the man who had fled Germany for America..”. With all due respect for his work on the Saturn 5 rocket, Herr von Braun helped build the A4 rocket ( The rocket and warhead together were later designated V2 and killed a lot of people in Holland and England) and was captured by American troops in Berchtesgaden at the end of the war. ‘Fleeing’ sounds like he was against the Nazi dictatorship. He wasn’t, not for a minute. He was a very good engineer, but an opportunist who would adopt any political ideal that would let him build his rockets.

  6. I’ve been looking for a high quality version of the Descent image in this post for a long time. Anyone know of someplace I can find one??

  7. UglyDeafMuslimPunkGurl @2, Moon is my favorite Heinlein novel, but I don’t think it would make a particularly good movie.

    I could see it as a TV series, perhaps. Something like Deadwood (but with less “cocksucker”), showing the texture of daily life in Luna, and then gradually developing the revolution plotline.

  8. The only thing from which vonBraun was fleeing was the invading Russian army. He picked the side where he would stand the best chance of surviving.

    Damned good rocket engineer, though.

  9. What gets me is the guy’s staying power. When I was 14 he was my favorite SF writer. I asked my grandson when he was 14 who his favorite writer was, and yep…

    If Bradbury were to read this he’d feel very old.

  10. Bradbury is a very good thing to give to a child. As early as possible.

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has been in Development Hell a few times, so far as I know. With luck it will remain there and Hollywood will never defile it. Might have hope elsewhere though.

    Werner…. lessee…

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