This is definitely not the first time I read The Martian Chronicles, but it is still amazing. I've read it twice in Russian and once in English in my teens, and it charmed me with its poetic descriptions and seemingly impenetrable depths of meaning. Although I DID prefer "A Medicine For Melancholy" and "The April Witch", you can imagine :)
Anyway, as Bradbury has been my favourite since then, I was thrilled by this reading, especially as I wanted to compare the way I felt about him when all the life was no more difficult than his stories, and how I would take it now.
I must say, that some of the charm stayed, which of course gladdens me, but it is not so overwhelming and intense any more. I took it more detached this time (no more crying, no-no!), but I think I can also see the meaning much better now.
Although most of the stories take place on Mars, and the novel does tell about its colonization, it is not about Mars at all. It is all about the ways of the society development on Earth and what can be the consequences of it. Of course, now the threat of atomic bombs and Third World War subsided, but the critique of the way Earth men treat other cultures is still topical. It seems that Mars was chosen as the scene of action just to expose all the wrong ways of humankind in contrast with some other, old, beautiful and wise civilization, which is not spoiled by technology, has not forgotten art and religion, and has found some universe purport of life. And men do look unsightly in this comparison.
So now I only need to write something super-clever about it in the essay, and my head is completely occupied with the university studies that start tomorrow. It is a completely new field of study in a foreign country and in a language I have studied for only a year! I have every right to be very nervous about it, I guess :) So wish me good luck!