Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury’s Genius Essay, Research Paper

Rocket. That must have been Ray Bradbury’s first word. The word “rocket” is the basis for any and all science fiction novels. Without such a diverse tool, science fiction would not be half as popular as it is today. Mr. Bradbury isn’t the greatest sci-fi writer of all time, but he is most assuredly one of the top 20, (at least I think so). Born Ray Douglas Bradbury on August 22, 1920 in a little town known as Waukegan in Illinois. In 1926, Mr. Bradbury’s family moved to Tucson Illinois where his father searched for work. During the next fourteen years, Mr. Bradbury moved between the two cities six times (wow). In 1934, however, Mr. Bradbury moved to Los Angeles, California. He proceeded to graduate for L.A. High and sold newspapers while critiquing his writing skills with his personal typewriter. Loving his newfound talent, he began selling his short stories to magazines that gave him widespread recognition throughout the country. He received the award of Best American Short Stories in 1945 for “The Big Black and White Game”. From there he began writing short story novels and has been very successful ever since (Internet source). The purpose of this essay for me was to find out what the worlds’ critics thought and wrote of Mr. Bradbury. I have found much and have in many ways enlightened myself in the sense of everyone having their own opinion of people. Thus it begins …

The Martian Chronicles are a classic example of the true nature of science fiction. The first short story begins with the first of three expeditions to Mars in the year 1999. Led by Capt. Nathaniel York and his assistant, the two men land on Mars only to meet their deaths at the hands of a jealous Martian husband. The night before the landing, York dreamed that he met a Martian woman and that he flirted with her and told her that she was beautiful. As the wife tells the husband of this dream, his total lack of control is evident; thus causing his fit of rage. The second expedition has the crew land on Mars and are documented as psychotics and checked into a Martian asylum. The Martian doctor shoots them so that they may be cured of their madness. The third expedition is led be Capt. Williams and his crew of eighteen men who land on the opposite side of Mars to avoid the same fate as Capt. York. As the men disband from the ship, they begin to notice that where they have landed looks a lot like homes, which is possible due to Martians having the gift of telepathy. As the men begin to survey the town, people (humans) begin to leave their homes. Immediately the crew realizes that these are friends, relatives who died on Earth long ago that causes a rush of emotion that over come any and all senses of logic. The troops are discharged and are killed that night by the Martians, probably because these telepaths could see what human nature is (Magill 1979, 1350-1351). The fourth and final expedition lands on Mars in 2005, not knowing exactly what happened to the previous expeditions, but confidant that this third time is a “charm.” However, as the men begin to search the Martian villages, all they find is the old decaying bodies of these little Martians. It is discovered that this whole race of creatures were wiped out by a child’s disease: chicken pox. This doesn’t bother the crew a bit, but causes one man, John Spender, to feel it necessary to avenge his Martian brethren. He is successful at killing most of the crew but is eventually put down by Capt. Wilder, Sam Parkhill and Hathaway (Magill 1990, 979-980). The book then goes into a series of sporadic short stories that are scientifically impossible but are just pure food for thought. By 2020, however, a world war has started on Earth and causing all colonists to leave for Earth so that they can take care of their families. It’s a sad ending, bur those are usually the best and most memorable kind. Many loved this book for its creativity, but also many, who believed that scientific backing is what makes science fiction great, thought this book to be a heretic.

Mr. Bradbury has written many works and is said to have on the covers of such renowned pieces of literature the title, “The world’s greatest living science fiction writer.” He may not be the greatest sci-fi writer and he isn’t the greatest in the literature sense (diction, syntax, sentence structure, etc.), but what his imagination puts forth makes up well for his lack of learning. I will begin with one of his earliest works, and has been said his best: Dandelion Wine (1957). In this novel that is pieced together by earlier short story writings, it is stated that Bradbury includes much of his real life in this book. It begins with a young boy awakening from a nights sleep and he feels wonderful knowing that his is alive. He begins to keep a journal of what he does each day. The boy writes of real human problems: sexuality, friends and wars that plague this planet. Mr. Bradbury received many awards from this novel, and also put his mark on the science fiction world (Magill 1991, 255-56). The next title wasn’t necessarily science fiction but more of a deep look into human evils. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) is a story of a dark carnival that tempts a group of males to surrender their souls in exchange for meaningless power. This is an all out thriller and has been made into a movie which I watched my sixth grade year. Again, this story takes place in a small town, Green Town that seems to be a favorite of Bradbury’s. It begins with a Carnival who moves into town at 3 a.m. a week before Halloween. This carnival takes away the one thing a person cherishes most and offers it back at a price (their soul). However, they never get this part of them fully back and are cursed to work for the carnival proprietor, Dark. The two young boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Holloway, enter this carnival and find what’s been happening to the citizens of this small town. They then enlist the help of Wills’ father in fighting this evil. In the end, the trio over comes Dark with joy and laughter (256-58). I have only gone into detail of three of Mr. Bradbury’s books because these titles seem to be what attracted the most followers to his writings.

Many loved him, and that is what makes writers special in their own way. Then again, you cannot have love with out a since of hate. In one such resource that I used, the book quoted a columnist favorable to Bradbury and another who was truly outraged; which I believe myself quite lucky to have found. The Defender, a Mr. Marvin E. Mengeling, puts Mr. Bradbury on a pedestal and is quoted writing, “It is Ray Bradbury style that remains his most distinguishing characteristic……….his style is ‘ a curious mixture of poetry and colloquialism’ (Riley, 42).” Another, the Prosecutor, Mr. Donald A. Wolfheim, lays Bradbury out and proceeds to kick him while he’s down. He is basically disowns any titles given to Bradbury by other authors and considers him a man that does not believe in a ‘happy ending’. He goes on to tell the read how much Mr. Bradbury distrust science and fears the world deriving its substance from such things. Yet, in the end, he makes up for it through out his statement that Mr. Bradbury is truly a poetic and his imagination is superb, but he puts down science to much (42-43). All in all, it can be said that Mr. Bradbury’s gift of creativity is what supports him in the mainstream of writing and that his style is what makes him unique.

All said and done, Mr. Bradbury was a poor writer and could not base a thread of his material on scientific knowledge. But he had a style that is unique to no other. That is what writing is all about, how you put all of what a soul or a heart can give on to a piece of paper. Many do well if given a topic that they can relate to or a subject that has some emotional appeal to them. The problem is, though, that for many this is impossible and even trying to speak about feeling is a terrible strain. This author used many references in his writings to what we as humans have already done: the wiping out of Martians with ‘civilized’ diseases. The Conquistadors caused the fall of Indian civilizations that had stood longer than any European city or town. The giving in to temptations that would do nothing but hurt us as seen in Something Wicked This Way Comes. We are human is what Bradbury, tries to tell his readers, so just be satisfied for once with what you have. Mr. Bradbury is married and spends his time lecturing and writing. I believe that time has passed him up, however, and that this day and age isn’t one for imagination. A shame, many may learn what humanity is all about if they could only dream.

1. Riley, Carolyn (Editor); Contemporary Literary Criticism V. 1, Gale Research Company 1973. Pages used: 42, 43

2. Magill, Frank N. (Editor); Cyclopedia of World Authors 2 V. 1, Salem Press 1989. Pages used: 235-238.

3. Magill, Frank N. (Editor); Survey of Science Fiction Literature V.3, Salem Press 1979. Pages used: 1348-52.

4. Magill, Frank N. (Editor); Magill’s survey of American Literature V. 1, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1991. Pages used: 246-258.

5. Magill, Frank N. (Editor); Cyclopedia of Literary Characters 2 V.3, Salem Press 1990. Pages used: 979.

6. Ray Bradbury Biography; Date used: 5-11-00. (2 pages)

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