Cold War Novels by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury wrote two very distinctly different novels in the early Cold War era. The first was The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Fahrenheit 451 (1953) followed. The thematic similarities of Mars coupled with the state of the American mindset during the Cold War era entwine the two novels on the surface. Moreover, Bradbury was “preventing futures” as he stated in an interview with David Mogen in 1980. A dystopian society was a main theme in both books as well, but done in a juxtapositions manner that makes the reader aware of Bradbury’s optimism in the stories. A society completely frightened by a nuclear bomb for example will inevitably become civil to one another. Bradbury used his life to formulate his writing, from his views of people, to the books he read and this has been identified by critics such as: Paradowski, Buchenberger, Hoskinson et al. Bradbury used science fantasy to critique humans themselves and the frontiersmen attitude of destroying the very beauty they find by civilizing it. This annotated bibliography explores Hoskinson’s essay as a cynosure, showing the similarities of the novels’ themes and how they lead to the, “There Will Come Soft Rains” autonomous house and its final moments as it is taken over by fire.
Buchenberger, Stefan. "The Martian Chronicles." Masterplots, Fourth Edition. Ed. Laurence W. Mazzeno, 4th ed. Salem Press, 2010. Salem Literature Web. 16 Nov. 2013.
Stefan Buchenberger starts his essay with a breakdown of The Martian Chronicles. He starts with “Rocket Summer” and how the rocket takes them from a cold winter to a warm summer like warmth. He ends his summary at “The Million-Year Picnic” which shows a family escaping the nuclear war on earth and the new life they will start on Mars. Buchenberger then carries over to the critical evaluation of the novel. He mentions the 1977-revised edition to the novel, which adds two new stories and deletes one story. The dates of all the stories are moved forward by 31 years to keep the stories “in the future.” Buchenberger discusses that the 26 stories are considered a novel due to thematic unity and composite chronicle style; however, Bradbury uses different subgenres, including parody, mystery, horror, adventure, and dystopian fiction. Race, gender, and colonialism are themes set against a poetic Martian Scene. Bradbury is described as having more of a sense of fantasy to his work relying on human characters and a sense of magic. It is pointed out that the book Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small Town Life(1919) by Sherwood Anderson was a major influence for Bradbury, as well as, Grapes of Wrath(1939) by John Steinbeck and most notably the John Carter of Mars series(1912-43) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The essay ends reflecting the colonization of Mars to the colonization of the United States.
Hoskinson, Kevin. "The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury's Cold War Novels." Extrapolation 36.4 (Winter 1995):...