This isn't exactly the birthday I had in mind for Ray Bradbury this year -- in my vision, he was alive -- but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take a little time out to remember and celebrate a man who was and still is a gem of American literature. Bradbury has written 27 novels and over 600 short stories. There's a lot of material there, and I haven't read but the smallest percentage for what he's written, so I'd simply like to talk about my favorite two Bradbury stories.

The first is "The Veldt," from The Illustrated Man. A family is living in an automated house -- "their soundproofed Happylife Home... this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them." In one room is a holographic nursery for the children to play in, and it keeps projecting a view of the African savanna, complete with lions feasting off in the distance. It's all a bit too real. What are those lions eating over there, and where are your parents anyway, kids?

Is it straight science fiction? Is it horror?

The second story is more of a story arc found in Dandelion Wine, about a man in beautiful Green Town Illinois who decides to build a Happiness Machine, that will finally give everyone their heart's desires. He's scoffed at, and ridiculed of course, but then there it is, sitting in Leo's garage: the Happiness Machine. But, wonders Mr. Bradbury, what happens when you get everyone just how you want it?

This story is more frightening then "The Veldt."

Ray Bradbury made magic out of these stories not just because his imagination functioned leaps and bounds ahead of others', but because he could tell of the wildest things, the most outrageous events and lead you along very simply, saying "Well, this is how it happened." His voice was cool and quiet behind a smile, and he was the easiest man in the world to trust.

By    No Comments

So, what do you think?