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The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles The Long Years Summary
Dr. Hathaway (from the Fourth Expedition) lives all alone on Mars—except for his beautiful family (wife Alice, daughters Marguerite and Susan, son John). They missed the rockets going home because they were off doing archeology in the hills. Archaeology: the most dangerous science. Oh, also, Hathaway has a bad heart, so let's hope he doesn't get too excited about anything in this story. There's also a mystery about why Hathaway visits a cemetery with four tombstones. Probably it's a pet cemetery, right? One day a rocket comes down to Mars. It's Captain Wilder, who we last saw in the Fourth Expedition ("—And The Moon Be Still As Bright"). Wilder got sent to explore Jupiter so he wouldn't interfere with the colonization of Mars. We heard about that first in "The Off Season." Wow, it's almost like these stories are linked together somehow. Wilder has been away for 20 years, but he's now going back to Earth because… maybe he's run out of Seinfeld reruns? Anyway, he finds Hathaway because Hathaway lights an entire abandoned city on fire to show Wilder where he is. Wilder and his crew are happy to meet Hathaway, though it's a little weird that Hathaway is so old and his family is so young. During a celebration breakfast, Wilder sends his crewman Williamson off to investigate the cemetery, where he discovers that the four tombstones are for . . . Alice, Marguerite, Susan, and John! So who are these people pretending to be Hathaway's family? Robots. (Cue the scary music.) Hathaway dies and is buried in the family cemetery. Wilder talks to Alice about how she's a very loving robot and how Hathaway survived all these years by pretending that he wasn't alone. Wilder takes his rocket back to Earth but leaves the robots on Mars. The robots go on living—er, existing?—either figuring out better ways to build cars or better ways to beat people at Jeopardy!
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