Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” was pretty much my gateway to science fiction. I recently re-discovered that all of the stories were given a month and year, setting them in an unimaginably distant future.
The First Expedition launched for Mars in January of 1999.
According to the original timeline, it’s now been 16 years since Walter Gripp decided he was better off alone than with Genevieve Selsor (The Silent Towns)
In April of 2026 Captain Wilder of the fourth expedition returns from the outer solar system and finds his friend Hathaway’s family living on Mars. (The Long Years)
In August of the same year, a windstorm causes a fire, destroying a house in Allendale California. (Note: If I ever manage anything near that level of automation in a smart house, the dog will receive better treatment.)(There Will Come Soft Rains)
In October 2026, the Thomas family arrives on Mars for The Million Year Picnic.
And that’s it. We’re 64 months away from the entirety of The Martian Chronicles being set in our past.
Welcome to the Future!
The Lorax is probably the first book that comes to mind when people talk about children’s books which touch on environmentalism and preserving nature for future generations. And I have no complaint with that. Doctor Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel) wrote a powerful story, which connected with kids quite well.
But for me, I also remember The Wump World. I couldn’t have been much past first grade when I first read the tale of these gentle creatures and how their world was overrun. I can’t be certain, but this was likely also one of my first introductions to the science fiction genre as the Pollutians came to the Wump World in what were clearly spaceships.
Out of the blue, a friend recently asked if I’d ever heard of the wumps and after checking that we were talking about the same thing, I felt compelled to revisit the Wump World.
Although the book is 44 pages long, it’s worth noting that every page is also illustrated with a color, pencil-drawing. It’s a fast read for an adult and given that it’s stuck with me for more years than I wish to recount, it seems a reasonable kid-length.
The story tells of the Wumps and how their idyllic existence is one day interrupted by the arrival of “The Pollutians” (to an adult, the name is hardly subtle, but as a child, I scarcely noticed it). It’s a dismal life for the Wumps, but much as with The Lorax, there’s a hopeful ending.
So yes, get the kids hooked on The Lorax, but don’t forget to visit The Wump World too.