The Off Season by Ray Bradbury, 1948
The magic trick:
Pure narrative, immediate and quick
We wrap up Bradbury Week with a story that combines pretty much all the best qualities of his work. We have the space-aged plot. We have the holier-than-thou philosophy. We have the cocksure humans getting their comeuppance. The cheeky humor. The big ending. It’s all there.
However, while many stories in The Martian Chronicles unfold slowly as they instead dwell on deep-thought debates, “The Off Season” gets right to it. The story ignites from the start. It’s violent and dramatic. It’s mysterious. Things happen. The narrative moves quickly and immediately, and end with a bang. And that’s quite a trick on Bradbury’s part.
“We Martians are telepathic,” said the cold blue mask. “We are in contact with one of your towns across the dead sea. Have you listened on your radio?”
“My radio’s busted.”
“Then you don’t know. There’s big news. It concerns Earth – “
A silver hand gestured. A bronze tube appeared in it.
“Let me show you this.”
“A gun,” cried Sam Parkhill.
An instant later he yanked his own gun from his hip holster and fired into the mist, the robe, the blue mask.