I see this tagged everywhere as science fiction, but it feels more like horror to me. The penultimate chapter, "There Will Come Soft Rains", appears in my class' new text book as a post-apocalyptic short story, so I thought I'd read the entire book to find out the context of the story. In doing so, I discovered a new favorite novel. I've not been entirely impressed with Bradbury in the past, but this is a masterpiece. He seems to write it with the thesis that most humans are despicable and deserving of death brought about by their own inventions.
This book was written in 1950 before manned space travel, so it's interesting to see the hopeful ideas that exist for the future of space travel. In Bradbury's world, we should have easily been able to travel to Mars and in rockets piloted by dear old dad by 1999. And, of course, humans would be able to breathe on Mars and would find other life forms on Mars. Unfortunately, when the Earthlings tell the Martians they are from Earth, the Martians think they're crazy people and institutionalize them because everyone knows there are no such things as Earthlings. But when the Martians realize that Earthlings do indeed exist, they plot to deceive and kill them. And it's no wonder because the Earthlings bring to Mars all the worst bits of Earth: guns, trash, plague, brash disregard for person and property, censorship, and racism.
Each chapter is written such that it can be a stand alone short story or be read as a story as a whole. Several have been published throughout the years. I think my favorite is "Usher II" where the main character creates the House of Usher on Mars and populates it with characters and scenes from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Then, for a little fun, he invites over all the censorship people who instituted book burnings on Earth of any works with imaginary characters and horrific themes. Much mayhem ensues with great quotes from my oft-taught and favorite Poe story, "The Cask of Amontillado".
I can't believe I waited so long to read this book. If you've not, do.