Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: Various Short Stories by Ray Bradbury

I blame Molly. By now, most of you know that Molly is my younger sister and she has a wonderful habit of making book recommendations which I promptly fall in love with. In the case of Ray Bradbury's stories, she got me hooked all the way back when she was in middle school. The first story she read was Frost and Fire in her English class. She brought home the story and told me that I simply had to read it.

I did. And I don't remember what it was about. But, I did read another one of Bradbury's stories: A Sound of Thunder. And it is, to this day, one of the best short stories that I have ever read. This week's review is a series of mini reviews, a short description of the story and why it is awesome. 

A Sound of Thunder
Themes: Time travel, consequences of actions, dinosaurs.
Did you ever see the movie The Butterfly Effect? If you enjoyed that, you'll love this. Eckels travels back in time to hunt the ultimate game: a Tyrannosaurus rex. But when Eckels gets spooked and runs away from his guide, his actions have disastrous consequences. I love, love, love this story because of the thought Bradbury put into it. Especially the science and risks behind time travel. The pacing and descriptions throughout the narrative make the reader nervous and jumpy right up until the end, where those feelings are replaced with dread and hopelessness. Read with a cup of tea.

All Summer in a Day
Themes: Space colonies, kids, social outcasts.
Margot is in a class of nine year olds who have grown up on Venus and never seen the sun. Margot is labeled the social pariah because she actually remembers what the sun is like, before her parents moved to the Venus colony. When the day finally comes that the sun is going to make an appearance, her classmates enact their revenge. I used this story in my classroom to show the basic elements of story. Plot arc, characters, mood, etc. It's almost the perfect example of the basic elements of story. When I recommend Bradbury's stories to people, it is always these two first. They are a terrific introduction to his work.

Here There Be Tygers
Themes: Ecology, exercising caution, unlikely utopias.
When a rocket full of anthropologists/mineralogists stumble upon what seems to be a perfect planet, one of their crew recommends caution until they find out exactly how the planet functions. When someone makes a mistake that angers the planet, the crew must decide whether to stay in the utopia or face the consequences of their actions. I liked that Bradbury turns the Star Trek trope of how to relate to the native population into what happens when the planet has a personality unto itself.

Bradbury's most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, is easily in my top ten favorite books. His short stories are a great introduction to the science fiction and fantasy genre. If you haven't given them a try, please do. You won't be disappointed. 

Emily is hoping that you all have a wonderful holiday season. She wants you to remember that a book is always the perfect gift, no matter what the occasion!

1 comment:

  1. I love Bradbury. "A Sound of Thunder" is also one of my favorites. I was really disappointed with the 2005 film.

    I also love his "Dandelion Wine", "The Illustrated Man", and "The Martian Chronicles". All being novels built from connected short stories.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

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