Study Guide

The Martian Chronicles The Long Years

By Ray Bradbury

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The Long Years

  • 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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