My reading of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles had different stages. Firstly there was an anxious state of expectation. Searching for the truth about horrible Martian race but none was there to be found. Secondly, the desire to meet the truth about fine Martians, the saviors of our doom, but there were also none there. After a while I learned that the Martian Chronicles aren’t about Martians at all. It’s on the truth of our, human race. Here are two examples.
Firstly, the chapter The Earth Men is a good example of what can be scary when exploring the unknown land. There is no bigger disappointment than not being accepted as you expect to be. Captain Williams and his team suffer the inevitable death, but the lesson here is pretty simple: never forget that your reality can be regarded merely as a delirium of a madman. And what is more, there is no way you can prove otherwise. Ad usum delphini here is a Bradbury’s logical statement repeating Leibniz’s: our world is only one of numerous possible worlds. Never forget that.
And secondly, similar thing occurs in the story of The Third Expedition. John Black, along with his team mates projected themselves their own heaven, where there apparently is no death and time. Meeting with their past, with their relatives and beautiful memories is a plot that can be read as a test. A test on how far can you can go in wanting things? Can you be in a totally unknown land and at the same time enjoy happiness with your most known and intimate things. No, of course not. But happiness is a state of mind, not some physical object. And material objects do not change just because we want them to. So Black and his comrades fail the test of separating the desires from real life. They ought not to.
Every story in the Chronicles has some hidden footnote between the lines. It’s just that there is none on the Martians.
Bradbury, however, introduces himself as a superb psychologist and logic.