THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES
Abridged Too Far?
released OUT NOW! 58 minutes
Publisher Big Finish
audio cd/download Whether you think condensing Ray Bradbury’s story of Mars colonisation from 28 connected short stories into an hour-long drama is a brave or stupid venture, you have to assume it’s doomed to failure. Yet this 2014 Radio Four adaptation is a surprisingly effective attempt.
Boasting an impressive cast (including Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell), pacy direction and phenomenally atmospheric sound design, it’s certainly a polished production. Wisely, it ejects many of the short stories and concentrates on those that best embody the novel’s themes of racial prejudice, the devastation of war and the triumph of the human spirit. Bradbury’s very American views on colonisation feel slightly odd with British accents but the script makes the issues feel relevant today.
You still have to wonder why anyone would actually want to condense The Martian Chronicles into an hour, mind. They pull it off, just, but even if you haven’t read the book, there’s definite a sense of “scratching the surface” – despite a clever framing device, a couple of the story choices still feel like curiously disconnected detours. More Martian Reader’s Digest than Chronicles, then, but still enjoyable. Dave Golder
Writers Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle also penned Sky 1’s two-part adap of Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.