With the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, Ray Bradbury became popular with the mainstream American reading public. Previously, he had a strong following among devout science fiction fans, but after the respected author Christopher Isherwood wrote a rave review of the novel, Bradbury became the first science fiction author to be accepted by the literary establishment. Isherwood and others believed that Bradbury had an uncommonly good style.

As he achieved success with the mainstream, Bradbury lost some credibility among science fiction fans and writers. He has been criticized for being anti-science, and this is understandable, since The Martian Chronicles can be interpreted as a warning against rampant colonization. He has been criticized for not doing what all science fiction should do--that is, write about the science of the future in a believable way. And he has even been criticized for having a sentimental, "purple" style.

When reading The Martian Chronicles, it is interesting to think about these problems. Does it matter whether it is actually "science fiction"? Probably not. But it is important to evaluate Bradbury's writing, to decide whether it is too melodramatic or just right.

Bradbury was born in 1920 in the quaint, small town of Waukegan, Illinois. He was fascinated by science fiction, and as a youth dedicated himself to learning the craft. But he eventually branched out to other genres. The Martian Chronicles was followed by other sci-fi novels, The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451. In the late 1950s, he wrote several fantasy-autobiography novels surrounding the small town of his childhood, including Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He later branched out into detective novels. Throughout his career, much of his best work has been in the form of short stories--in fact, the The Martian Chronicles is a conglomeration of several already-written stories along with some material original to the novel.

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