Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Smile by Ray Bradbury

A line of people forms in the town square of a future dystopian society for a chance to spit on an old painting. Young Tom waits in line listening to the elders. When his time comes, Tom can not bring himself to spit on the painting because he finds the woman beautiful. He asks a man the name of the painting and the man tells him it is the Mona Lisa. The law announces that the painting is to be turned over to the citizens and destroyed, so the crowd begins to rip the painting to shreds, much to Tom’s horror. He tries to grab at the painting but only rips off a portion of the canvas. He runs home and is scolded by his mother and father. He goes to bed and while lying there looks at the portion of the canvas he holds in his palm: the Smile.

Good story. Great tribute to art.

The Million-Year Picnic by Ray Bradbury

A sci-fi story about a family vacationing on Mars. Eventually the father reveals that they are not just vacationing, but there to colonize Mars because earth is war-torn and uncivilized. The children ask all day to see the Martians, so finally, at the end of the story, the father takes them to see. The family walks down to the canal and looks at their reflections in the water.

Imaginative and touching. Smart, yet piercing in its implications.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar! (Come into My Cellar) by Ray Bradbury

Fortnum believes that the mushrooms his son is growing in the cellar may be part of a well strategized invasion by intelligent beings that infiltrate earth through bacteria that grows into mushrooms. Humans who consume the mushrooms are taken over by the Martians. Fortnum’s own son has eaten some and planted a plate of the mushrooms in the refrigerator to be consumed by mom and dad.

Great original Martian story. Bradbury is always finding clever ways to make his reader uneasy or chill them to the bone. Clever and imaginative; Taunt and suspenseful.

Ray Bradbury Theater

Monday, March 29, 2010

Invisible Boy by Ray Bradbury

Charlie befriends Old Lady while his parents are away. With the prospect of Charlie leaving her, Old Lady convinces him that she has turned him invisible, so he can not return home. Angry, Charlie plays tricks on her so that she can not call her own bluff. Finally, Old Lady gives in and convinces Charlie he is visible again. He returns home, and the story ends with Old Lady and the truly "invisible" Charlie, together, in her mind.

Touching, heartfelt, and comical. Fun read.

The story was adapted into a play.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Time in Thy Flight by Ray Bradbury

Students from the future take a field trip through time to 1928. It is apparent they are from a very strict society where they work and are forced to grow up much too quickly. Mr. Fields tries to conjure disgust in his students at the barbaric circus, the moronic Fourth of July celebration, and the horrible Halloween rituals. Janet decides she wants to be apart of this world and runs off with Robert. The story ends with Mr. Fields threatening to fail those children remaining behind, but they don’t hear because they are being served warm cider inside.

Classic Bradbury theme: fear of the loss of childlike innocence. Good story.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Man by Ray Bradbury

A captain of a rocket from earth becomes irate when he finds that his arrival on a new planet has been upstaged by a man who is described as a prophet who visited a day earlier. Rocket-man Martin believes the townspeople are telling the truth, which makes the captain angrier, and insist that it is a joke being played on the town by a fellow rocket captain. When the other rockets arrive, damaged, and captains dead, the captain begins to believe that Christ may have visited the planet. He threatens the townspeople to give up the prophet, whom they say has moved on. The captain sets out to find the prophet on another planet, hoping to catch up to Him some day. Martin stays behind, watches the rocket leave, and is then told by the Mayor that he will now be allowed to go see the prophet, who remains on the planet.

Touching. Another thoughtful, soul-searching sci-fi tale from Bradbury.

Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury

Mink’s mother discusses blissfully Mink’s new game “alien invasion” she is playing with the other neighborhood children. When “zero hour” comes, Mother realizes what sounded like a harmless and imaginative children’s game is a real invasion by aliens from another dimension who befriend earth children to get information. For mother and father hiding in the attic, the realization comes too late…

Starts off with childlike bliss and ends creepier than you could ever imagine. Great story.


Radio Drama

Ray Bradbury Theater (TV)

Pillar of Fire by Ray Bradbury

William Lantry emerges from his grave in the year 2349. He finds a utopian society where crime, murder, and fear doesn’t exhist. On top of that, all forms of horror literature have been lost. Corpses are burnt in incinerators instead of buried. Lantry launches a vendetta to destroy the incinerators, murder, and bring fear back to the world. After killing many, he is found out, and taken to the incinerator to be burnt, reciting lines from Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado.

Classic Bradbury! Terrifying, smart, and heartfelt. Great tribute to Poe and other writers who obviously influenced Bradbury in a great way.

Chrysalis by Ray Bradbury

Scientists anxiously watch over their fellow scientist, Smith, who is enclosed in a mysterious green chrysalis. Rockwell hypothesizes that Smith is undergoing a metamorphosis and will emerge a superhuman. Hartley is doubtful and wants to destroy the cocoon. Finally, Smith emerges without any superpowers, much to the chagrin of Rockwell. Disappointed the scientists disperse. Alone, on the top of a hill, Smith flies away towards the stars.

Mysterious, imaginative, and surprising. Ending really pays off.

Made into a movie in 2008: Chrysalis Movie