Daytalking (from Completely in the Dark), Nightwalking (courtesy of ShinyRobot), and Stargazing (again, CITD).

Mars Ain’t the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Michael Maupin
9 min readJun 8, 2019

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“‘One thing,’ he said later, ‘it’s quick in space. Death. It’s over like that. You don’t linger. Most of the time you don’t even know it. You’re dead and that’s it.’”
— “The Rocket Man” by Ray Bradbury

THE LAST THING I ever thought I’d do was write about Ray Bradbury again. After all, I met the man just twice: once in the early 1990s, and the last time in 2000. But “Uncle Ray” has a way of becoming the ghost of Hamlet’s father, skulking about after dark, rattling his literary chains on the parapet of consciousness, and urging me toward a writing future I wasn’t ever sure I wanted in the first place.

In other words, I think I gotta heed the spirit and just go with this.

Bradbury wrote about humans torching books, the distant planets of our solar system, dandelion wine in summer and machines that created joy and misery, ghosts and ventriloquists, carnival barkers who sold lightning, and children who dreamed of the stars.

All miracles, really.

Cover illustration to Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, Bantam Books, 1976.

As a writer, Bradbury inspired me in his gentle, remote-uncle way, steering me toward places I never imagined. I might have wished my own father was more like him, but that was never to be. Maybe that’s why there are extended families — godfathers and great uncles, stepmothers and crazy aunts — people whose very existence reminds us there’s more to life than just the people we’ve always known.

But, in truth, this post isn’t about Mars, even though Uncle Ray was fascinated by the Red Planet for most of his life. The Martian Chronicles is his second most popular book after Fahrenheit 451.

My thoughts recently turned to The Illustrated Man, a collection of short stories, after I learned a surprising fact — one that fused literature to music and science and how all that became something I wanted to write about in my own life.

“…the blue stars of evening were there, and the red planet Mars was rising in the East.”
— “The Rocket Man” by Ray Bradbury

FIRST, IT’S A story about fathers and sons.

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Michael Maupin

Writer, editor, and media maker. Blogs at Completely in the Dark (www.completelydark.com) and lives in Minneapolis, MN. Currently on Substack at StoryShed.