Ray Bradbury once said that he had not so much thought his way through life as he had done things and discovered what those things meant and who he was after the doing. This metamorphosis of experience under the aegis of memory also characterizes many of his stories, which are often transmogrifications of his personal experiences. He therefore used his stories as ways of hiding and finding himself, a self whose constant changes interested, amused, and sometimes frightened him. He believed that human beings are composed of time, and in many of his science-fiction stories, a frequent theme is the dialectic between the past and the future. For example, in several of his Martian stories, the invaders of the Red Planet have to come to terms with their transformation into Martians, since survival in an alien world necessitates the invader’s union with the invaded. Aggression and submission might represent the initial dialectic, but survival or death becomes the most determinative.
Even in stories where Bradbury’s characters and settings seem ordinary, this theme of metamorphosis is nevertheless present, because these stories often show ordinary people being transformed by extraordinary, sometimes bizarre situations. Sometimes Bradbury’s purpose is to point out the enlightening power of the abnormal; sometimes he wants to reveal the limitations of the everyday and ordinary. His best works are often wrenching indictments of the dangers of unrestrained...
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