Ray Bradbury


Jan 20, 2015
Hey, how come I can't see any Ray Bradbury discussions. I am new to the site so maybe he is in some hallowed hall of fame I am not aware of but I thought I would see him listed here.

Has anyone else recently re-read his work and noticed how dated it is now. Obviously the science has changed but his descriptions of the future seem deeply rooted in the Middle-America of the 1950's. I am thinking particularly of the Martian Chronicles where basically 1950s America gets transplanted, lock stock and barrel, to Mars.
Weeelllll.... Authors are given their own subforums when there are enough discussions ongoing to merit going to the trouble of setting such up. Bradbury, sadly, does not have that sort of following at this point (this could always change, but I doubt it, given the trends in sff fandom for quite some time).

As for your observations... well, there is merit in noting these things, but frankly it seems to me a "and your point is...?" blind alley to go up; rather too literalist a reading of Bradbury (or anyone else, for that matter). Bradbury never considered himself a science fiction writer; he saw himself as a fantaisiste; as J. B. Priestley put it: "His stories use the familiar properties of science fiction ... but ... to express some of his own deepest feelings. It is significant that he lives in Southern California.... Here, on this sign-post to the Future, sits Mr. Bradbury, telling us his dreams."

Bradbury was never concerned with scientific accuracy or prediction or world-building as such (including extrapolating trends); he was interested in a modern mythic addressing of the concerns he shared with his times. Often, though the detail differs considerably, what lies at the root of his symbols continues to be relevant today, for he is addressing the rather timeless aspects of the human condition, often against a fantastic backdrop to set them in high relief. One doesn't go to Bradbury for "tech" or hard science fiction, any more than one does with Ballard, but both writers will, I think, continue to resonate long after the more technically accurate portions of sf are forgotten.

(And for those who see in Bradbury simply the sentimentality, I strongly suggest they look into his early work, as well as some of his later collections. A darker vision than some of these it would be difficult to find.)
I really like Bradbury, he is one of my favorite classic authors. He is generally classified as sci fi, but I think it is important to note that he considered himself to write fantasy. He is great with prose and his stories reflect his ideals, not necessarily a "realistic" picture.

The Martian Chronicles is my favorite of his works. Farenheit 451 is well known for its anti-censorship message, yet I found it a bit heavy-handed and preachy. Several of the short stories in The Martian Chronicles carry the same themes, yet they are more memorable and haunting.

Bradbury also stretched out a bit into dark fantasy with Something Wicked This Way Comes. This story does take place in the 1950's, but carries timeless themes of the nature of good and evil in each person, and the lure of immortality.
I know I sounded critical of Bradbury but I am really a big fan and he is a huge influence on my own writing. He put forward ideas of strangeness and alien encounter that I had never come across in any other writing. Take his short story Pi, where the baby is pushed into a different reality. The only other author I know of that comes close to describing alternate realities is H P Lovecraft. Also his social commentary that runs through The Martian Chronicles still has resonance today. The short story There Will Come Soft Rains, I found to be chilling to read given that I was living through the Cold War and having actual nightmares of nuclear war. So admire his work and I merely wanted to start a discussion by taking a fresh look at what he wrote.
As I said, raising the point has merit; my reservation was the literalistic reading of Bradbury, a writer very little concerned with such (see, for example, his introduction to his anthology Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow). My tone may have been too sharp, in which case I apologize. I will simply plead that such a tendency when it comes to sff, and sf in particular (which is still fantastic literature using these tropes for their metaphoric value) is something I see far too often, despite any number of writers of the stuff actually rejecting the prophetic role (albeit not always the extrapolative role) because they know full well such is almost impossible to do with any accuracy. Hence, this tends to be a bugbear for me, I will admit. So my apologies if I came across too strongly.

On another note: interesting you make the comparison between Bradbury and HPL, given Bradbury's own fondness for Lovecraft and the influence that his colleague, Clark Ashton Smith, had on Bradbury (as well as Harlan Ellison).

As for a discussion of Bradbury and his work -- I'll be glad to see such. Ray remains one of my personal favorites, and I agree that his work doesn't receive nearly the thoughtful analyses it deserves....
It's OK JD, your tone was not too sharp and I was perhaps being deliberately provocative with my statements to stir up some argument. I don't think RB should be stuck in a glass case and never talked about, so I was hoping to see lots of discussion about his work. Thanks for the head's up on those other writers. I shall certainly be researching their work in future.
I just finished "The Illustrated Man". It's not as solid a collection of stories as "The Martian Chronicles", but there are several real gems there. Some of these stories remind me of Leigh Brackett. They aren't meant to be too literal, but they are excellent character explorations of human nature.

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