Abridged Too Far?

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

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.

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