The Piper (Bradbury)

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The Piper
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An exiled musician from Venus played music to summon savage Martians, leading them to attack Earth's cities on Mars, ultimately seeking revenge and the return of art and culture to humanity.

An old man and a young Martian boy were discussing the mysterious Piper, a tall, gaunt man with a pale face and electrical purple eyes, who played his pipe on a burial hill every year.

The Piper — tall, gaunt man; exiled musician from Venus; pale face, electrical purple eyes; skilled in playing music with purpose.

The old man explained that the Piper was an exile from Venus, once the epitome of Venerian culture until Earthlings outlawed him and sent him to Mars.

Mars is a dying world. Nothing ever happens of much gravity. The Piper, I believe, is an exile.

The old man lamented the greed and lack of culture among the Earthlings who had colonized Mars, mining its resources and establishing three cities.

The Old Man — elderly man; knowledgeable about Mars and its history; leathery face, calloused hands; believes in the Piper's cause.

The Piper's music grew more insistent each night, and the old man believed it was a call to action for the hybridized Martians who lived in caves far away. As the Piper played, a vast herd of black creatures advanced from the mountains, drawn by the music. The old man told the boy to hide, as he believed the creatures would overrun the Earthlings' cities, take their projectiles, and then travel to Earth to exact revenge and establish a new civilization.

The Martian Boy — young, last pure Martian; curious and eager to learn; thin, reddish feet, large green eyes; dislikes Earthlings.

Someday, they will meet their doom. They have blasphemed enough, have they. They cannot own planets as they have and expect nothing but greedy luxury for their sluggishly squat bodies.

The boy hid as the black creatures swarmed the cities, bringing destruction and death. Rockets filled the sky, and the old man was swept away in the chaos. As dawn broke, the boy emerged from hiding, ready to start a new world with a new mate, remembering the old man's words about the Piper and his powerful music.