Ray Bradbury: Mars and the Midwest
Wason, Marianne Darrah
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Mr. Bradbury's intention in the Mars stories 1s not to write imaginative science fiction stories (science fiction' being strictly defined in this paper according to Webster: imaginative stories centered about some projected, often fantastic, scient1f1c development), but to write about man. He may use some familiar elements of science fiction - interplanetary travel, utopian societies - but they are not in themselves their own point, their own mean1ng~ For example, Mr. Bradbury does not relate to rockets as 'ingenious mechanical devices sprung from the minds of men.' Rather, rockets s1mply transport one through space to Mars: space symbolizes undefined reality, and Mars symbolizes newness, challenge, cosmic drive, human potential. Or, when Mr. Bradbury constructs a story around the hypothetical breakdown of the space-time continuum, he is not playfully extrapolating a tale from Mr. Einstein's theory, he is creating a symbolic setting in which man faces mysterious elements of himself he may not normally perceive. Even by contemporary definitions of science fiction, Mr. Bradbury does not really f1t. Harry Harrison, editor of Best SF: 1967, writes that "the heart of the matter . . .is the impact of science and technology on man. This impact is really what modern SF is all about. But this is not what Mr. Bradbury is about. He is not primarily concerned with diagnosing and criticizing the effects of technology on man, but rather with elucidating the effects of man-on- himself and on all that which is not-himself.