Since it’s initial publication by Doubleday in 1950, much has been said and written of Ray Bradbury’s seminal The Martian Chronicles. With little to add to that conversation, this piece instead focuses mainly on the arduous task of producing an incredible edition of the book, one with the original text, new artwork and never-before-seen material—The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition by Subterranean Press and PS Publishing.
If you’re interested in just the photos, you can skip to the end.
The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition had a long and tortured history. Initially slated to be published by the infamous Hill House, it was plagued by numerous delays before eventually being cancelled when Hill House closed their doors.
The Martian Chronicles: The Special Edition
A complete collection of The Martian Chronicles and related stories/essays was first announced by Hill House in 2004, then titled The Martian Chronicles: The Special Edition and slated for publication in fall 2005. This announcement was made alongside what they called The Ray Bradbury Author’s Preferred Edition Series. This series was to include signed, limited editions of the following books:
- Cat’s Pajamas
- The Dog In The Red Bandana
- The Wish and Other Stories
Membership in this series allowed you a number of benefits, including a discount off the price of The Martian Chronicles, which was not included as part of the Preferred Edition series. The following description of the book eventually appeared on the Hill House website:
The Hill House publication of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES is far more than simply another limited edition. It is a truly definitive compilation of the core stories featured in the first edition, additional Mars stories written by Mr. Bradbury, seven new stunning pieces of full-color art by artist Edward Miller, two film scripts written by Mr. Bradbury (never seen before), and an array of fascinating behind-the-scenes material that provides a much richer dimension to this classic work than ever before.
- The trim size of the book is 8 1/2“ x 11”
- The book is bound and slipcased in a silk binding and traycase.
- Limited to 750 copies for the numbered and 52 copies for the lettered—numbered/lettered & signed by Ray Bradbury
- Richard Matheson, acclaimed author and screenwriter of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES in its original television mini-series incarnation, has written an Introduction to the Screenplay section of our edition. He will also be signing all our editions on a separate signature page.
- All the original stories from the first edition of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES;
- A section featuring other Mars stories by Mr. Bradbury that have never before appeared in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES;
- Seven new color paintings by artist Edward Miller;
- A film script of the book written by Mr. Bradbury in 1963 (in facsimile form);
- A film script of the book written by Mr. Bradbury in 1993 (in facsimile form);
- Neither script has ever been published prior to this edition; the differences in the two scripts are truly remarkable and provide a real insight into how Mr. Bradbury’s approach to the work has changed over the years;
- A fascinating collection of behind-the scenes documents, including “Why I Wrote My Book,” written by Mr. Bradbury a month after the publication of TMC and never-before seen.
However, in early 2005, the cracks in Hill House’s ability to manage their Bradbury productions were starting to show, with The Dog In The Red Bandana and The Wish and Other Stories both being cancelled (or indefinitely postponed, depending on who you asked) after only publishing Cat’s Pajamas. In the meanwhile, The Martian Chronicles was continually pushed back throughout 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, with a slight name change at some point along the way, becoming The Martian Chronicles: The Definitive Edition.
The Martian Chronicles: The Definitive Edition
With a well-established reputation for long delays and infrequent/ignored communication, Hill House attempted to make amends with some of their customers by producing two add-ons in 2007 for those who had preordered the book, in advance of the expected publication of The Martian Chronicles itself.
The first—a chapbook titled How I Wrote My Book by Ray Bradbury—was limited to 50 numbered copies and apparently 50 lettered copies, the latter of which were leather-bound and packaged in a pouch-like sleeve. This essay was originally intended as an introduction to his 1950 collection, but it never made it in. It was apparently shared with Hill House by Sam Weller, author of The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. The chapbook came in at 35 pages long and included a facsimile of Bradbury’s original essay with his notes and revisions, as well as a more easily read, typeset version. As described by the publisher:
In 1950, just a few short weeks after he turned in the final manuscript of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES to his editor at Doubleday, the young Ray Bradbury sat down at his typewriter and pounded out a précis detailing how he had come to write the book.
This piece is an amazing commentary and makes clear the thoughts, dreams, and vision of one of our most cherished writers.
Mr. Bradbury had originally intended to have this piece published. More work on the manuscript–and more stories and books of course–intervened and it lay undisturbed in the archives for decades … until the publication of this book.
The second—The Martian Chronicles Triptych—was limited to 200 numbered copies and perhaps 50 lettered ones, which didn’t seem to vary from the numbered apart from the letter. The Triptych consisted high-quality reproductions of three of the eight pieces of Edward Miller’s artwork that Hill House had commissioned for their edition; a printed line across the top of the piece taken from the last line of The Martian Chronicles; and a rectangular insert at the bottom featuring the signatures of Ray Bradbury, Edward Miller, and the limitation number. All of these elements are presented in a hand-cut, multiple opening mat and encased by a 10“ by 20” black wood frame with a full-glass front. A placard featuring a description and the limitation number was attached to the back of the Triptych, which read:
The MARTIAN CHRONICLES Triptych is based on the book THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES: The Definitive Edition, written by Ray Bradbury and featuring paintings of acclaimed artist Edward Miller. THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES: The Definitive Edition will feature both the text of Mr. Bradbury’s original THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and more than twenty additional Martian stories by Mr. Bradbury (many of which will see their first publication in this edition). This volume was published by Hill House, Publishers in 2007.
The Triptych features three of the color paintings created for the Hill House edition by Edward Miller. The epigraph inlaid at the top of the piece is taken from the last line of Mr. Bradbury’s story “The Million-Year Picnic.” The limitation card, inlaid at the bottom, features the signatures of both Ray Bradbury and Edward Miller, along with the limitation.
All elements of the Triptych were produced by Hill House, Publishers in 2007. The elaborate five-opening mat was cut by hand. The Triptych is limited to 100 pieces. All one hundred Triptychs will be distributed to only the early subscribers of the Hill House volume.
You can see pictures of both at Awful Books.
While the artwork looked great, the entire production seemed sloppy:
- The final line actually reads “The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water…” I’m not sure that there was a great need to change it.
- Elipses have three periods.
- The front referred to the book as “The Complete Edition” while the back called it the “The Definitive Edition”.
- The front also claimed a limitation of 200 copies while the back said 100.
Undoubtedly a very nice gesture for people who had waited years for their book, one can only imagine that the production of these two free add-ons must have been very costly and only contributed to the hastening of Hill House’s demise. But to add insult to injury, copies weren’t even shipped out to everyone who had preordered The Martian Chronicles.
Efforts were made by PS Publishing in the middle of 2008 to partner with Hill House to get the book published, but those plans didn’t work out.
Unfortunately, Hill House’s edition of The Martian Chronicles never came to be. The triptych and chapbook turned out to be their penultimate publication, with only Neil Gaiman’s long-delayed Anansi Boys to come after. By November 2008 the Hill House website was down and many people who pre-ordered the book directly from Hill House or Gauntlet Press were left without much recourse.
Interestingly, the way that Gauntlet Press handled the entire thing left a bit to be desired. As described by Bill from Subterranean Press on the Ray Bradbury forum:
One thing I might point out: Gauntlet accepted payment from customers for the Hill House edition, and paid Hill House. When Hill House went under, and never repaid Gauntlet, rather than absorbing the loss as a cost of doing business, Gauntlet then went back to the customers who bought the book initially and asked them to pay again to receive our edition.
Gauntlet would have sold the preorders at a profit after paying Hill House, so I’d agree that this should have been a loss that Gauntlet ate. As a customer, if I had preordered through Gauntlet, I would have expected a full refund from them, instead of being told that I had to go to Hill House for my money back.
The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition
Subterranean Press and PS Publishing were able to secure the rights to publish The Martian Chronicles after Hill House’s demise, with the book now titled “The Complete Edition.”
They purchased the signature sheets from Hill House, already signed by Ray Bradbury, and reduced their edition from 750 limited editions to 500, and 52 lettered to 26. This explains why you’ll see the Hill House logo on the limitation page in the Subterranean Press/PS Publishing book.
They also decided to commission five new pieces of art to be included in their edition, opting not to use seven of the eight pieces of art that Edward Miller had already produced.
The ones that Edward Miller created for the Hill House edition can be viewed and purchased as prints from his site:
- Ray Bradbury portrait (this one was used in the Subterranean Press/PS Publishing edition)
- Mr K and the Bee Gun
- The Watchers
- Green Town
- Green Morning
- Canal Rendezvous
- Rocket Summer
And the ones that were commissioned for Subterranean Press/PS Publishing:
- The Silver Locusts
- And The Moon Be Still As Bright
- Off Season
- The Third Expedition
- There Will Come Soft Rains
From Subterranean Press’ order page, a description of the books:
- Added introductions
- Five new, full-color plates by Edward Miller commissioned especially for our edition
- A 7 by 10 inch trim size to make this not only a work of art, but a readable volume
- Printed in two colours throughout
- Limited: 500 signed numbered copies
- Lettered: 26 signed, deluxe bound copies, housed in a custom traycase
When we took on The Martian Chronicles, Mr. Bradbury had already signed the signature plates, which do not bear the SubPress/PS logos, or the proper limitation, which is 500 numbered copies and 26 lettered copies. Rather than ask Mr. Bradbury to go to the great difficulty of signing this many sheets again, we decided to use the existing ones.
As a little behind-the-scenes insight, Bill also mentioned the following in one of the forums at the time:
You may be interested to know that I believe the proposed Hill House edition was going to have an even larger trim size than ours, so it would have been even more unwieldy. As to breaking TMC into two volumes, I’m afraid that just wasn’t economically feasible. I’d hate to think what we would have had to charge – mostly because of binding two books in the custom ordered material.
Subterranean Press was able to ship out copies starting in May 2010. Unable to get information from Hill House on which customers had placed preorders, Subterranean Press instead generously offered $75 off the $300 price for the limited edition for a limited time for everyone, not just those who would have lost their money ordering directly from Hill House or Gauntlet Press.
Six long years after being announced, the book was in the hands of collectors.
The full table of contents is below:
- Meeting the Wizard by John Scalzi
- Undiscovered Mars, Unseen Bradbury by Joe Hill
- Lost Mars, the Unpublished Martian Stories of Ray Bradbury by Marc Scott Zicree
- For Ray Bradbury by Richard Matheson
The Martian Chronicles (Classic book)
- Rocket Summer
- The Summer Night
- The Earth Men
- The Taxpayer
- The Third Expedition
- And the Moon Be Still as Bright
- The Settlers
- The Green Moming
- The Locusts
- Night Meeting
- The Shore
- The Fire Balloons
- The Musicians
- The Wilderness
- The Naming of Names
- Usher II
- The Old Ones
- The Martian
- The Luggage Store
- The Off Season
- The Watchers
- The Silent Towns
- The Long Years
- There Will Come Soft Rains
- The Million-Year Picnic
The Other Martian Tales (uncollected/unpublished stories):
- The Lonely Ones
- The Exiles
- The One Who Waits
- The Disease (previously unpublished)
- Dead of Summer (previously unpublished)
- The Martian Ghosts (previously unpublished)
- Jemima True (previously unpublished)
- They All Had Grandfathers (previously unpublished)
- The Strawberry Window
- Way in the Middle of the Air
- The Other Foot
- The Wheel (previously unpublished)
- The Love Affair
- The Marriage (previously unpublished)
- The Visitor
- The Lost City of Mars
- Payment in Full
- The Messiah
- Night Call, Collect
- The Blue Bottle
- Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed
- 1964 version (previously unpublished)
- 1997 version (previously unpublished)
- How I Wrote My Book
- Awful Books – Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles Triptych
- Ebay listing from binding deals
- Hill House – The Ray Bradbury Author’s Preferred Edition Series web page (archived)
- Hill House – The Martian Chronicles Special Edition web page (archived)
- Hill House – The Martian Chronicles Signed/Numbered Edition web page (archived)
- Hill House – The Martian Chronicles Signed/Lettered Edition web page (archived)
- Ray Bradbury Board – Disturbing news on Martian Chronicles (Hill House)
- Ray Bradbury Board – The Subterranean Martian Chronicles Thread
The following pictures of the Lettered Edition are courtesy of Yegor Malinovskii.