Literature Study GuidesThe Martian ChroniclesOctober 2026 The Million Year Picnic Summary

The Martian Chronicles | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | October 2026: The Million-Year Picnic | Summary



A family from Earth goes on a fishing trip while on a "vacation" to Mars. But when their rocket blows up from a distance, oldest son Timothy realizes the vacation is for good. William Thomas asks his sons to pick out their favorite city and promises them they will see Martians.

Once in a city William burns his papers from Earth and explains he is burning the Earth way of life so they can start anew. Earth is long gone. He takes his family to the canal and points to their reflections in the water. They see Martians because they are now Martians.


In this last chapter Bradbury presents a bittersweet ending—Earth has finally gone silent, but survivors have escaped with possibly a second family on the way. This story follows the close perspective of Timothy, the family's oldest son, who is not old enough to be a completely reliable narrator. Timothy only knows what his dad tells him. By choosing Timothy's child perspective, Bradbury is signaling his hope humanity can one day rebound, because what do children know of warmongering and moral climates?

And to make sure his children do not learn such things, William Thomas burns his papers in a symbolic cleansing by fire. These are not the "flights of fancy" Bradbury objects to being burned in "April 2005: Usher II" but dry government documents, stock market reports, and war digests.

Timothy's baby sister, due to be born soon, is also a symbol of Bradbury's hope for the future.

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