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Essay/Term paper: The martial chronicles

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Book Reports

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In The Martial Chronicals, Ray Bradbury provides a glimpse

into the future that not only looks at people from a

technological standpoint, but from a human one as well. His

well crafted, almost poetic stories are science fiction in

setting only. They put much more emphasis on the apathy

and inhumanity of modern society, rather than the

technology. (Bryfonski, 68) Ray Dougless Bradbury was

born on August 22, 1920 to Leonard Spaulding and Ester

Bradbury in Waukegan, Illinois. He began his writing at the

young age of twelve, mostly for his own amusement. His

fantastic sytle of writing was developed during this time as he

read the Oz books, Alice in Wonderland, Tarzan, Grimms'

Fairy Tales, and the works of Poe. In 1934 his family

moved to Los Angeles, where Bradbury attended high

school and joined the Los Angeles Science-Fantasy Society.

While a member, Bradbury published four issues of his own

magazine, Futuria Fantasia. After graduating from high

school in 1938 he took various jobs which allowed him to

devote much of his time to writing. His first story, published

in 1940 by Script magazine, was "It's Not the Heat, It's the

Hu" and established Bradbury's popular theme of social

irritation. By 1942, Bradbury was able to earn enough

money writing that he could give up his job selling

newspapers 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. Most

of his stories are more along the lines of fantasy with an

intense understanding of human nature. In "The Green

Morning", a man named Benjamin Driscoll arives on Mars

looking for a job and a way to fit in. Before long, however,

he faints, as many people do, because of the thin air of

Mars. Upon waking, the first thing he notices is the lack of

trees on the Martian plains. He decides that his job should

be to plant trees. He works for weeks planting trees of all

kinds across the Martian countryside but the lack of rain

leads him to believe that all of his efforts are in vain. That

night the rains come, and when Driscoll awakens the next

morning, he finds a Mars covered with trees over six feet

tall, "nourished by alien and magical soil"(Bradbury 77), and

producing a "mountain river"(Bradbury 77) of new air. As

Bradbury says, "Science fiction is really sociological studies

of the future, things that the writer believes are going to

happen by putting two and two together...Fantasy fiction is

the improbable" (Candee 88). Quite obvioulsy, that story is

not very probable and should not be classified as

science-fictioin. Another exaple of such an improbable story

lies in the chapter entitled "YLLA". Bradbury goes to great

lengths in this chapter to discribe the Martian setting using

fastastic imagry such as crystal pillar houses, golden fruits

growing from the walls, and martians with light brown skin

and golden eyes. At one point he even mentions the "flame

birds" that the martians use for transportation. Even the

martian names in his stories are unbelievable. He uses names

such as Mr. K, Mr. Xxx, Mr Iii, etc and doesn't even bother

making them realistic. But for Bradbury's "purposes the

trappings of science fiction are sufficient--mere stage

settings" (Riley 43). He uses his sci-fi/fantasy settings as a

medium to express human behaviors and shortcomings. In

the stories of The Martian Chronicals, Bradbury is never

hesitant to critisize mankind and our "misapplication of

science to avaricious ends" (Bryfonski 68). In the chapter

called "-And the Moon be Still as Bright", Bradbury details

the arrival of the fourth expedition of men from earth and

their discovery of a dead planet as a result of diseases

transmitted from previous expeditions. A man named

Spender was the sole voice of opposition against all of the

disrespect shown by his crew members toward the once

noble race of Martians. While many of the men are getting

drunk and partying, Spender is grieving and appealling to his

captain, who can do nothing. Spender is pushed over the

edge when a drunk named Biggs gets sick in the middle of

one of the most beautiful cities of Mars. Spender is so

offened that he disappears into the Martian hills and does

not return for two weeks. When he does return, he goes on

a murderous rampage, first killing Biggs, and then four of his

fellow crew members. Through Spender, Bradbury is

showing his disapproval of mankind's exploit of other races

by the misapplication of technology. (Bryfonski 68) Another

important aspect of Bradbury's work in The Martian

Chronicals is his demonstration of human's "inability to

forget, or at least resist, the past" (Bryfonski 70). When the

second expedition of Earthmen arrive on Mars, Captain

Williams, its arogant leader, expects praise and

congradulation from the Martians and is confused when no

one takes him seriously. The crew walks from door to door

looking for someone who will acknowlegde their

accomplishment, but no one even seems to care. The men

can't "accept the fact that this is Mars-a different, unique

new land in which they must be ready to make personal

adjustments"(Bryfonski 70) until after it is too late to do

anything about it. They are thought to be insane Martians,

who have the ability to project their thoughts, thus explaining

their appearance. The only cure, as they are told, for such

insanity, is death. Shortly after, each crew member is

executed. Their executer's demise is also brought about by

an inability to forget the past. He is the administrator of an

insane isylum in which the men are placed. His job is to

evaluate and, if nescessary, kill insane Martians. After he

kills the Earthmen, he expects their bodies to return to the

"normal" Martian form. When they do not, he is convinced

that he has become insane and procedes to kill himself as

well. Another story with incidents of human inability to

change lies in chapter "The Earth Men", which, in some

ways, "acts as a metaphor for the book as a

whole"(Bryfonski 70). Here, a third expedition of Earthmen

arrive on Mars, only to find a town not unlike one in the

United States in the mid-1800's. Upon exiting their ship they

were even more suprised to find people, old friends and

relatives, that had been dead for years on Earth. They are

told that this is the place where people come when they die,

and before long the entire crew abandoneds their ship and

reminisces with people from their past. That night all of the

crew members settle in with their long lost families, and just

a little too late, Captain John Black realizes their fatal

mistake. The martians, endowed with the gift of telepathy,

create an elaborate illusion to fool the humans into vacating

their ship and leaving them defenseless. As the crew lies

silently in bed, they are murdered by the Martians, thus

ending the third expedtion. Although Bradbury's style of

writing cannot be considered science fiction, it is a very

unique and an important part of modern literature. His

stories inThe Martian Chronicles established him as a serious

writer of science fiction and fantasy and are full of wonderful

images, messages, and truths about life (Solomon).

"Bradbury's stories are not an escape from reality; they are

windows looking upon enduring reality" (Bryfonski 69).  

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