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Bradbury, Ray

science nuclear war mars

(US, 1920– )

Hailing from Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury has been a full-time writer since 1943 when he began contributing horror and science stories to periodicals. There are numerous collections of these short stories, most famously in Illustrated Man (1951) in which they are described as being magically tattooed onto a traveller's body.

Bradbury's reputation as a leading science fiction author was secured with the publication of The Martian Chronicles (1951). This describes attempts of Earthlings to conquer and colonize Mars during the years 1999–2026, the constant thwarting of such attempts by the gentle, telepathic Martians, the colonization, and ultimately the effect on the Martian settlers of a full-scale nuclear war back on Earth. As with much great science fiction, it stands as a work of displaced social criticism, reflecting many of the prevailing anxieties of liberal America in the early 1950s: the fear of nuclear war, Bradbury's contempt for racism and censorship, and the longing for a simpler life. Mars acts as a series of ‘collective representations’ of Nature, and the book culminates in a recognition by Earth's survivors of the Mars within themselves.

The fear of nuclear war also haunts Bradbury's most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), which depicts a totalitarian dystopia in which the written word is forbidden and ‘firemen’ are employed to burn books. While most of the citizens live oblivious, unemotional lives watching interactive television soap operas, a small band of outcasts determine to memorize entire works of literature and philosophy, for posterity.

H. G. Wells, Kim Stanley Robinson, Roger Zelazny. See SCIENCE FICTION  RP

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