(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The principal character of all of these stories is Bradbury the storyteller. "Remember Sascha?" "The Finnegan," "Quicker Than the Eye," "Dorian in Excelsus," and "Bug" each feature a first-person narrator. This narrator is mildly self-effacing or self-deprecating. He is also male, amused, enthusiastic (sometimes to the point of bombast), and traditional—a combination of the voice of Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes tales with the Marlovian ruminativeness of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902; see separate entry). This narrator is never detached. The autobiographical reference of the Bradbury narrator is discussed above in "Themes." Furthermore, many of the third-person storytelling voices are autobiographical, intentionally and explicitly. Male characters are named "Douglas Spaulding" and "William Henry Spaulding," transmutations of the names of Bradbury and his father. Moreover, the birth dates of a number of these characters flirt with the August 20, 1920 birth date of Bradbury.

There are also pastiche characters such as Captain Nemo from Jules Verne's Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869; see separate entry), Dorian from the Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and Dr. Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories. Two characters from the demi-history of the stage are Laurel and Hardy. Characters from real history include Melville, Poe, and Wilde. Seven stories feature couples, heterosexual...

(The entire section is 298 words.)