28 pages 56 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1949

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Authorial Context: Ray Bradbury and the Space Age

Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920 and in high school moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he became interested in Hollywood. His first professionally published short stories appeared in the early 1940s in science fiction magazines and later in the decade in mainstream magazines like American Mercury, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. His first book was a collection of fantasy and science fiction short stories called Dark Carnival (1947), and his second, called The Martian Chronicles (1950), explored an imagined colony on Mars at the turn of the 21st century. While later famous works like Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and Dandelion Wine (1957) diverged from his interest in space exploration, it remained a topic he returned to throughout his career in both short stories and in Hollywood screenwriting.

While the Space Age proper did not begin until the Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957, Bradbury’s short stories from the late 1940s and early 1950s reflect the cultural interest in space that preceded this breakthrough. Bradbury himself was deeply interested in advances in space exploration, befriending many of the leading astrophysicists of his day. However, Bradbury was insistent that the aim of his fiction was not to speculate about potential technology or real scientific events.