Hiswell crafted, almost poetic stories are science fiction insetting only. They put much more emphasis on the apathyand inhumanity of modern society, rather than thetechnology. (Bryfonski, 68) Ray Dougless Bradbury wasborn on August 22, 1920 to Leonard Spaulding and EsterBradbury in Waukegan, Illinois. He began his writing at theyoung age of twelve, mostly for his own amusement. Hisfantastic sytle of writing was developed during this time as heread the Oz books, Alice in Wonderland, Tarzan, Grimms’Fairy Tales, and the works of Poe. In 1934 his familymoved to Los Angeles, where Bradbury attended highschool and joined the Los Angeles Science-Fantasy Society.
While a member, Bradbury published four issues of his ownmagazine, Futuria Fantasia. After graduating from highschool in 1938 he took various jobs which allowed him todevote much of his time to writing. His first story, publishedin 1940 by Script magazine, was “It’s Not the Heat, It’s theHu” and established Bradbury’s popular theme of socialirritation. By 1942, Bradbury was able to earn enoughmoney writing that he could give up his job sellingnewspapers and devote all of his time to what he loved.
(Candee 88) As some critics would agree, the term”science-fiction” does not apply to Bradbury’s work. Mostof his stories are more along the lines of fantasy with anintense understanding of human nature. In “The GreenMorning”, a man named Benjamin Driscoll arives on Marslooking for a job and a way to fit in. Before long, however,he faints, as many people do, because of the thin air ofMars.
Upon waking, the first thing he notices is the lack oftrees on the Martian plains. He decides that his job shouldbe to plant trees. He works for weeks planting trees of allkinds across the Martian countryside but the lack of rainleads him to believe that all of his efforts are in vain. Thatnight the rains come, and when Driscoll awakens the nextmorning, he finds a Mars covered with trees over six feettall, “nourished by alien and magical soil”(Bradbury 77), andproducing a “mountain river”(Bradbury 77) of new air. AsBradbury says, “Science fiction is really sociological studiesof the future, things that the writer believes are going tohappen by putting two and two together.
. . Fantasy fiction isthe improbable” (Candee 88). Quite obvioulsy, that story isnot very probable and should not be classified asscience-fictioin. Another exaple of such an improbable storylies in the chapter entitled “YLLA”.
Bradbury goes to greatlengths in this chapter to discribe the Martian setting usingfastastic imagry such as crystal pillar houses, golden fruitsgrowing from the walls, and martians with light brown skinand golden eyes. At one point he even mentions the “flamebirds” that the martians use for transportation. Even themartian names in his stories are unbelievable. He uses namessuch as Mr.
K, Mr. Xxx, Mr Iii, etc and doesn’t even bothermaking them realistic. But for Bradbury’s “purposes thetrappings of science fiction are sufficient–mere stagesettings” (Riley 43). He uses his sci-fi/fantasy settings as amedium to express human behaviors and shortcomings. Inthe stories of The Martian Chronicals, Bradbury is neverhesitant to critisize mankind and our “misapplication ofscience to avaricious ends” (Bryfonski 68).
In the chaptercalled “-And the Moon be Still as Bright”, Bradbury detailsthe arrival of the fourth expedition of men from earth andtheir discovery of a dead planet as a result of diseasestransmitted from previous expeditions. A man namedSpender was the sole voice of opposition against all of thedisrespect shown by his crew members toward the oncenoble race of Martians. While many of the men are gettingdrunk and partying, Spender is grieving and appealling to hiscaptain, who can do nothing. Spender is pushed over theedge when a drunk named Biggs gets sick in the middle ofone of the most beautiful cities of Mars. Spender is sooffened that he disappears into the Martian hills and doesnot return for two weeks.
When he does return, he goes ona murderous rampage, first killing Biggs, and then four of hisfellow crew members. Through Spender, Bradbury isshowing his disapproval of mankind’s exploit of other racesby the misapplication of technology. (Bryfonski 68) Anotherimportant aspect of Bradbury’s work in The MartianChronicals is his demonstration of human’s “inability toforget, or at least resist, the past” (Bryfonski 70). When thesecond expedition of Earthmen arrive on Mars, CaptainWilliams, its arogant leader, expects praise andcongradulation from the Martians and is confused when noone takes him seriously. The crew walks from door to doorlooking for someone who will acknowlegde theiraccomplishment, but no one even seems to care. The mencan’t “accept the fact that this is Mars-a different, uniquenew land in which they must be ready to make personaladjustments”(Bryfonski 70) until after it is too late to doanything about it.
They are thought to be insane Martians,who have the ability to project their thoughts, thus explainingtheir appearance. The only cure, as they are told, for suchinsanity, is death. Shortly after, each crew member isexecuted. Their executer’s demise is also brought about byan inability to forget the past. He is the administrator of aninsane isylum in which the men are placed. His job is toevaluate and, if nescessary, kill insane Martians.
After hekills the Earthmen, he expects their bodies to return to the”normal” Martian form. When they do not, he is convincedthat he has become insane and procedes to kill himself aswell. Another story with incidents of human inability tochange lies in chapter “The Earth Men”, which, in someways, “acts as a metaphor for the book as awhole”(Bryfonski 70). Here, a third expedition of Earthmenarrive on Mars, only to find a town not unlike one in theUnited States in the mid-1800’s.
Upon exiting their ship theywere even more suprised to find people, old friends andrelatives, that had been dead for years on Earth. They aretold that this is the place where people come when they die,and before long the entire crew abandoneds their ship andreminisces with people from their past. That night all of thecrew members settle in with their long lost families, and justa little too late, Captain John Black realizes their fatalmistake. The martians, endowed with the gift of telepathy,create an elaborate illusion to fool the humans into vacatingtheir ship and leaving them defenseless. As the crew liessilently in bed, they are murdered by the Martians, thusending the third expedtion.
Although Bradbury’s style ofwriting cannot be considered science fiction, it is a veryunique and an important part of modern literature. Hisstories inThe Martian Chronicles established him as a seriouswriter of science fiction and fantasy and are full of wonderfulimages, messages, and truths about life (Solomon). “Bradbury’s stories are not an escape from reality; they arewindows looking upon enduring reality” (Bryfonski 69).