“Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” by Ray Bradbury

“Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” by Ray BradburyDark They Were, and Golden-Eyed by Ray Bradbury
Genres: Science Fiction

When I was in around third or fourth grade, I read a story in a textbook that captured my imagination and helped me discover a lifelong love of reading.  Like most stories that one reads in school as a child, it faded in my memory, even though it played an important role in my life.  I always wanted to read it again, but I didn’t remember anything about it, other than the fact that it was set on Mars.

While browsing around the internet, I finally re-discovered it, after many years of searching.  *Happy Dance*

The story is none other than Ray Bradbury’s “Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed,” a tale about a homesick colonist and his family who are abandoned on Mars after a nuclear war grounds all spacecraft from Earth.  As the colonists are changing Mars, Mars is changing them, morphing them into something completely alien from their former selves.

Lying abed, Mr.Bittering felt his bones shifted, shaped, melted like gold. His wife, lying beside him, was dark from many sunny afternoons. Dark she was, and golden, burnt almost black by the sun, sleeping, and the children metallic in their beds, and the wind roaring forlorn and changing through the old peach trees, violet grass, shaking out green rose petals.

Bradbury’s imagery is gorgeous.  More than fifteen years later, the story is as lush and vibrant as I had remembered.

13 thoughts on ““Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” by Ray Bradbury

  1. So glad you found it. I would never be able to recall enough of the images to track it down. I remember more how things affected me and that’s hard to connect with the actual work.

    1. Oh, it took me a very long time to come up with enough to find it. For years I would spend a few minutes every time I went to a bookstore browsing through books about Mars hoping that I’d inadvertently come across it. Then I remembered a tiny bit of the ending, and that was enough to help locate it.

  2. How fantastic! I’m so happy for you that you stumbled across this. I had a similar experience with a book once and I remember how excited I was to discover it. In that case it was just a cover experience of a book I had never read and couldn’t remember the title or author. How cool that this is a story you actually connected with AND found it to be good upon returning to it.

    Bradbury was quite the storyteller. You just missed posting this on the one year anniversary of his death by one day! 🙂

    1. I definitely need to read more Bradbury–I haven’t read nearly enough of his work. If anything, the story was even better than I had remembered it. When I was still looking for it, I was afraid that I’d find it and not be as awed by it as I was when I had originally read it. I needn’t have worried. 🙂

  3. Finding a story you loved and lost is kind of like remeeting an old friend. You know the good stuff is there. (Certainly doesn’t hurt when the old friend is Ray Bradbury!)

    Also, forget jet packs, I’ll take the internet any day of the week.

  4. What a great experience! I had a similar experience searching for Mara: Daughter of the Nile. Couldn’t remember the title, finally found it, and while I love the writing and strong female protagonist, I hated the theme–that Hatshepsut was an evil usurper who must be destroyed. What I’ve read of Hatshepsut tells me she created a peaceful, prosperous regime (as many women monarchs do), so the author’s bent seemed sadly chauvinistic. Sigh. Of course, all of that was over my head at the time I first read the book.

    So, I’m glad your experience turned out better. If you love imagery and figurative language, you can do no better than Something Wicked This Way Comes.

    1. I’m always afraid of re-reading books I loved when I was younger for precisely that reason. The Star Wars extended universe books were a huge part of my childhood, but I don’t think that they would survive a re-read, and then the magic would be gone.

      Oooh, I will have to keep an eye out for “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” I’ve read very little Bradbury, but after re-reading this story I know that I’ll have to come back to him.

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