Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What did Time smell like?

There was a smell of Time in the air tonight. He smiled and turned the fancy in his mind. There was a thought. What did Time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. And, going further, what did Time look like? Time looked like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theater, one hundred billion faces falling like those New Year balloons, down and down into nothing. That was how Time smelled and looked and sounded. And tonight — Tom├ís shoved a hand into the wind outside the truck mdash; tonight you could almost touch Time.
In addition to rereading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles for this week's unit of the MOOC on fantasy and science fiction that I'm following, I decided to rewatch it as well.

It originally aired in January 1980, and I remember it as a big television event (this was, after all, the golden age of the miniseries). Apparently Bradbury thought it was boring. That may be true from the perspective of the mind from which the story was sprung. But it made a great impression on my 10-year-old self. Possibly more so than the book, which I didn't read till years later.

Low on special effects, and I don't particularly care for how the Martians are represented (they should be brown-skinned and small; I don't know about bald), it manages to convey the essence of Bradbury's novel, an ambiguity that hovers between poignancy and creepiness.

Scripted by Richard Matheson (no slouch as a writer of SF himself), it has an excellent new-agey soundtrack, and a vibe reminiscent of Fassbinder's World on a Wire (which is maybe just a general 1970s tv sfi-fi vibe, I dunno).But I think it's awesome.

You can watch The Martian Chronicles online (parts one, two, three).


Stefanie said...

You know I've never seen it and haven't gotten around to reading the books either yet I still call myself a SF reader and Bradbury fan. Oy. Must rectify this big gap!

Isabella Kratynski said...

Funny how we label ourselves: I'm a Bradbury fan and it's the only thing of his I've read.

Do read it someday. You can read all the chapters separately, as short stories or as prose poems (I'll bet you've read some of it without even knowing it, so many pieces of it were published as stories), but the whole is bigger than its parts.