Friday 18 December 2015

Sci-fi shorts still work

The Illustrated ManThe Illustrated Man


Ray Bradbury

Some time back my onlne book group read Bradbury’s short story “There will come soft rains”. We found the following excellent reading by Leonard Nimoy.


This inspired me to want to read more of this classic sci-fi writer’s work, so I picked up The Illustrated Man, and was not disappointed. Even for non lovers of sci-fi I think there is something here. Written in the late 1940s/early 1950s its amazing how relevant some of his social commentaries are today. For example in “The Other Foot” we are on Mars, inhabited only by black people, the whites having stayed on Earth. But after years of separate existences, Earth has disintegrated and suddenly the Martians are faced with an earth ship landing. The community faces up to how it should treat these whites wanting sanctuary on their planet – shoudl they treat then with all the hatred and discrimination they had shown to black folks on earth? or should they treat them like fellow human beings? Remember he wrote this in a time when linchings were still happening, the KKK was very active, and the racial divide absolute.

Other stories which resonanted well with me were “The Long Rain” the story of the spaceshipwrecked crew on the eternally wet Venus as they try to reach the dry, warm, quiet of the Sun Dome; “The Vedlt” with its concept of the children’s playroom which made their thoughts and play like reality, a some of interactive holographic play suite, I suppose; “The Fox in the Forest” where a couple have escpaed the horror and war of 22nd century with its leprosy bombs, radioactive madness for the sunshine, smells, sounds, tastes of 1938’s Mexico,. But have they escaped the Searchers who like bounty hunters hunt down Travel in Time, Inc.’s holidaymakers who “forget” to come home. What I liked was his ingenious devices and scenarios, which for me still work some 60-70 years after he wrote them. 

I listened to the audio version read well by Scott Brick, my only issue with the audio was that Tantor Audio could have made a little longer time spacing between the individual stories

ashramblings verdict 4* Great selection of sci-fi stories which still work today

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