Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Next Twenty-Six: More Ray Bradbury Stories

The Stories of Ray Bradbury. Introduction by Christopher Buckley. 2010. April 2010. Knopf, Doubleday. 1112 pages. [I've read 366/1112]

This past week I've read some great short stories by Ray Bradbury! I thought I would take some time to share my thoughts on the ones I read this week. [See also my post last weekend on the first twelve stories that I've read.]

The Earth Men
Whoever was knocking at the door didn't want to stop.
Mrs. Ttt threw the door open. "Well?"
"You speak English!" The man standing there was astounded.
"I speak what I speak," she said.
"It's wonderful English!" The man was in uniform. There were three men with him, in a great hurry, all smiling, all dirty.
The Off Season
Sam Parkhill motioned with the broom, sweeping away the blue Martian sand. "Here we are," he said. "Yes, sir, look at that!" He pointed. "Look at that sign. Sam's Hot Dogs! Ain't that beautiful, Elma?"
The Million Year Picnic
Somehow the idea was brought up by Mom that perhaps the whole family would enjoy a fishing trip. But they weren't Mom's words; Timothy knew that. They were Dad's words, and Mom used them for him somehow.
The Fox and the Forest
There were fireworks the very first night, things that you should be afraid of perhaps, for they might remind you of other more horrible things, but these were beautiful, rockets that ascended into the ancient soft air of Mexico and shook the stars apart in blue and white fragments.
The first concussion cut the rocket up the side with a giant can opener. The men were thrown into space like a dozen wriggling silverfish. They were scattered into a dark sea; and the ship, in a million pieces, went on, a meteor swarm seeking a lost sun.
The Rocket Man
The electrical fireflies were hovering above Mother's dark hair to light her path. She stood in her bedroom door looking out at me as I passed in the silent hall. "You will help me keep him here this time, won't you?" she asked.
"I guess so," I said.
Marionettes, Inc.
They walked slowly down the street at about ten in the evening, talking calmly. They were both about thirty-five, both eminently sober.
No Particular Night or Morning
He had smoked a packet of cigarettes in two hours. "How far out in space are we?" "A billion miles."
The City
The City waited twenty thousand years.
The Fire Balloons
Fire exploded over summer night lawns.
The Last Night of the World
"What would you do if you knew that this was the last night of the world?"
"What would I do? You mean seriously?"
"Yes, seriously."
"I don't know. I hadn't thought."
The Veldt
"George, I wish you'd look at the nursery."
"What's wrong with it?"
"I don't know."
"Well, then."
"I just want you to look at it, is all, or call a psychologist in to look at it."
The Long Rain
The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and streaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains.
The Great Fire
The morning the great fire started, nobody in the house could put it out. It was Mother's niece, Marianne, living with us while her parents were in Europe, who was all aflame.
The Wildnerness
It was twilight, and Janice and Leonora packed steadily in their summer house, singing songs, eating little, and holding to each other when necessary. But they never glanced at the window where the night gathered deep and the stars came out bright and cold.
A Sound of Thunder
The sign on the wall seemed to quaver under a film of sliding warm water.
The Murderer
Music moved with him in the white halls. He passed an office door: "The Merry Widow Waltz." Another door: Afternoon of a Faun. A third: "Kiss Me Again." He turned into a cross corridor: "The Sword Dance" buried him in cymbals, drums, pots, pans, knives, forks, thunder, and tin lightning. All washed away as he hurried through an anteroom where a secretary sat nicely stunned by Beethoven's Fifth. He moved himself before her eyes like a hand; she didn't see him.
The April Witch
Into the air, over the valleys, under the stars, above a river, a pond, a road, flew Cecy.
Invisible Boy
She took the great iron spoon and the mummified frog and gave it a bash and made dust of it, and talked to the dust while she ground it in her stony fists quickly.
The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind
"In the shape of a pig?" cried the Mandarin.
The Fog Horn
Out there in the cold water, far from land, we waited every night for the coming of the fog, and it came, and we oiled the brass machinery and lit the fog light up in the stone tower.
The Big Black and White Game
The people filled the stands behind the wire screen, waiting.
The dark porch air in the late afternoon was full of needle flashes, like a movement of gathered silver insects in the light.
The Golden Apples of the Sun
"South," said the captain.
"But," said his crew, "there simply aren't any directions out here in space."
The Powerhouse
The horses moved gently to a stop, and the man and his wife gazed down into a dry, sandy valley. 
Hail and Farewell
But of course he was going away, there was nothing else to do, the time was up, the clock had run out, and he was going very far away indeed.
My favorite this week? Definitely "The Murderer". Have you read it? You should! It was written in 1953. Albert Brock's first victim? The telephone? His second victim? The television. Our hero in this short story has had it with technology. Has had enough of being connected--always connected--with everybody, with everything.  He's on a mission to deliver man from modern 'conveniences'.

I've got two favorite quotes to share. One is from "No Particular Night or Morning"
"We're all fools," said Clemens, "all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact that we're not perfect and live accordingly." (206)
The second is from "The Fire Balloons"
"Father Peregrine, won't you ever be serious?"
"Not until the good Lord is. Oh, don't look so terribly shocked, please. The Lord is not serious. In fact, it is a little hard to know just what else He is except loving. And love has to do with humor, doesn't it? For you cannot love someone unless you put up with him, can you? And you cannot put up with someone constantly unless you can laugh at him. Isn't that true? And certainly we are ridiculous little animals wallowing in the fudge bowl, and God must love us all the more because we appeal to His humor." (223)
I enjoyed what I read this week. For the most part. Some stories are more memorable--to me--than others. A few of these I had completely forgotten--even though it's only been a few days! But others I still remembered. Some I think will be with me a while!

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have a favorite Ray Bradbury story?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana 5:20 AM  

I should see if my library has this book!

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