The Exiles (Bradbury story)

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"The Exiles"
AuthorRay Bradbury
Original title"The Mad Wizards of Mars"
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inMaclean's
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
The Illustrated Man
R is for Rocket
Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales
A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories
A Pleasure to Burn
Media typePrint

"The Exiles" is a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury. It was originally published as "The Mad Wizards of Mars" in Maclean's on September 15, 1949 and was reprinted, in revised form, the following year by The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. First collected in The Illustrated Man (1951), it was later included in the collections R Is for Rocket (1962), Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales (2003), A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories (2005) and A Pleasure to Burn (2010, under the "Mad Wizards" title and presumably with the Maclean's text).

Plot summary[edit]

In 2120, the crew of a rocket ship headed for the planet Mars is dying and plagued by nightmarish visions and dreams. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Mars – supernaturalist authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood and Ambrose Bierce — are also dying, fading from existence as the people of Earth burn the last of their books, outlawed a century before for their superstitious themes. Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare are there too, although Dickens bitterly resents his "ghettoization" among genre writers. The last copies of books that survived, brought by the captain acting on an unknown hunch, are all that stand in the way of the destruction of these literary remnants on Mars. Upon landing, the astronauts burn the books, thus finally exterminating the authors and their creations.

The Three Witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth appear at the beginning of the story. Similar characters reappear in another of Bradbury's short stories, "The Concrete Mixer," also dealing with Mars, and they provided the title of Bradbury's novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes.


"The Exiles" was adapted to the Eclipse comic book Alien Encounters No. 10 (December 1986) by Tom Sutton.


Author and literary critic Gore Vidal admired Bradbury and this story in particular, calling it "a good short story" and saying that it represented Bradbury "at his best".[1]

Related stories[edit]

Bradbury also wrote of similar futures where books were banned, with references to Poe and other authors, in the short stories "Pillar of Fire" and "Usher II" (1950), and the novel Fahrenheit 451.


  1. ^ Vidal, Gore (1977), "The Wizard of the 'Wizard'", New York Review of Books, Vol. 24, No. 15; September 29, 1977.

External links[edit]