Literary Qualities

Bradbury was for years science fiction’s premier literary stylist and, although his heavy use of adjectives and metaphors can seem cloying today, he remains one of the most sophisticated writers in the genre. He is particularly fond of similes, depicting “housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets” in “Rocket Summer” and spaceships landing on Mars in “The Locusts”: “The rockets came like drums, beating in the night. The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke.” Much of the metaphoric language in The Martian Chronicles slips easily into allegory, adding depth to Bradbury’s fiction.

Bradbury is a quintessentially American writer with a good ear for the patterns of small-town talk and nonstandard English. At its best, his dialogue is reminiscent of Hemingway’s, and Bradbury has always spoken of that writer as an influence. What most readers remember about the literary technique of The Martian Chronicles, however, are the complex, almost surrealistic, narrative passages, which contain Bradbury’s beautiful and touching descriptions of a far-away but strangely familiar world.

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