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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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Critical Overview

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Despite the popularity of writers like H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, science fiction was not well-regarded by critics at the time “There Will Come Soft Rains” was published in the early 1950s. Though science fiction movies and books abounded, most received little or no critical attention. Bradbury was an exception to this trend, and indeed his popularity has given rise to the permanent acceptance of science fiction. Little criticism has focused specifically on the story “There Will Come Soft Rains”; however, The Martian Chronicles, the collection in which it appeared, has been the subject of numerous articles. Edward J. Gallagher calls it “one of those acknowledged science fiction masterpieces,” in the book Ray Bradbury. William F. Touponce talks about Bradbury’s work in general, praising it for “its rich imaginative vision, and . . . for the way in which it links up with the larger literary movements of the twentieth century, surrealism and existentialism.” Specifically regarding The Martian Chronicles, Touponce expresses admiration for its themes, which “[express] the guilt of the twentieth century’s destruction of exotic and primitive civilizations.”

However, Bradbury’s detractors complain that his style suffers for the sake of his ideas. Kent Forrester, in an article titled “The Dangers of Being Earnest: Ray Bradbury and The Martian Chronicles” says that “the stories are weakened” by Bradbury’s fervent belief in his ideas, “unless we are as enthusiastic about his ideas as he is.” He claims that Bradbury “sometimes stops his narration to lecture us.” In spite of this criticism, however, Forrester also thinks that Bradbury’s visions of the future are “aesthetically pleasing and richly imaginative” and that these qualities “compensate” for “other artistic lapses.” Bradbury, in an interview published in Science Fiction Voices #2, answers his critics by declaring that he does not care what they think. “Every writer in the science fiction world is a different kind of writer. . . . I’m an idea writer. . . . The Martian Chronicles is a metaphor for a way of viewing the universe, of viewing our planet and the other planets. It works because it rings a bell of truth.”

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Essays and Criticism