Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts

Review: How Great Science Fiction Works

How Great Science Fiction Works How Great Science Fiction Works by Gary K. Wolfe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a sucker for programs from The Great Courses. They are phenomenal primers on diverse subjects that provide listeners with a rich understanding of the topic. This production only reinforced my positive experience with them. Wolfe provides a complex and dynamic exploration of science fiction that traverses not just time but themes, styles, and formats of science-fiction. He knows his stuff and the complexity of it but provides easy-to-follow lectures that trace out different ideas within science fiction (e.g. time travel, alien invasion, evolution, etc) and some of the most know works grappling with those ideas. He also delves into issues of authorial influence, politics of the time(s), and the impact of publishing industry on the content. The over 12-hours of listening slipped by and I landed at the end wanting to hear more and with a "to-read" list 100 pages long!

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Short Story #408: The Adaptive Ultimate by Stanley G. Weinbaum

Title: The Adaptive Ultimate

Author: Stanley G. Weinbaum

Summary:

Book cover to The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum.
Dr. Daniel Scott has a theory about evolution and adaptation and he enlists his friend, Dr. Herman Bach to help him out.  He has created a serum from fruit flies (the supposed most adaptable species) that can heal illnesses in animals.  Now he needs a human to test it on.  Initially appalled, Bach does not look to actively help him but then a terminally ill patient with no chance of survival arrives at the hospital, Kyra Zelas.  They explain to her what they are going to try to do, explaining that it’s unlikely to be successful but she chooses to be a subject.  To everyone’s surprise, it works overwhelmingly well and she recovers full in a short time.  Upon release though she commits murder, with no justification other than to obtain the man’s wallet.  In the court trial, Scott and Bach expect they will need to help her but as she is described by witnesses, her appearance changes, leaving the court incapable of prosecuting her.  The doctors bring her to Herman’s home with hopes of studying her further as they begin to realize that she can mutate and adapt at will in response to any dangers.  As the doctors realize what they have done, Zelas becomes increasingly aware and comfortable with her abilities.  She leaves them for long stretches and takes up with increasingly more powerful men and they attempt to stop her but are powerless to directly attack her.  They devise a plan to suffocate her with carbon dioxide when she visits them again.  Once asleep, they manage to kill her by destroying her pineal gland through her nose.  Once dead, her physical beauty disappears and she returns to what she had previously looked like; except for Dan, who couldn’t help but love her, still sees the beautiful version of Zelas.

Reflection

Much like his previous stories, I'm impressed with some of the scientific questions that Weinbaum is grappling with in this tale. It's clearly a Frankenstein-inspired tale that raises interesting questions about the evolutionary idea of adaptation and ideas around gene-splicing.  I'm less impressed with Weinbaum's view of women or at least Zelas.  I think it was noticeable for me because his previous two stories that I've read are devoid of women and this story has at best a dubious representation of women.  Elements of it remind me of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, wherein two men bet upon how a lowly impoverished girl can make it in high society, but much more nefarious.  As doctors, Bach and Scott use their authority to convince a nearly-dying girl to accept an untested drug.  They follow this with the assumption that then Zilas is their property and when she does not act as such, their only recourse is to knock her own and while she lay asleep, kill her (by penetrating her face).  Needless to say, it leaves one a bit dubious.  

Rating:  5 (out of 5 stars)


Source:  The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum by Stanley G. Weinbaum.  Ballantine Books, 1974.  You can read the story for free on this website.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

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Short Story #407: Valley of Dreams by Stanley G. Weinbaum

Title: Valley of Dreams

Author: Stanley G. Weinbaum

Summary:

Book cover to The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum.
This story follows on the heels of Weinbaum's other story, A Martian Odyssey.  Jarvis, the protagonist along with another crew member, Leroy, a Frenchman, return from being away for a few days and look particularly haggard.  They proceed to share their tale about what has transpired.  They had traveled out to collect the films that Jarvis had left behind.  They encounter a large and mostly abandoned city, where they encounter the alien race that Jarvis met before and even stumble upon Tweel.  Tweel gives them a tour of the space, where they encounter large paintings of the aliens and what look like humans but with elongated noses.  Jarvis and Leroy realized that at some point, Tweel's race had made it to Earth and proved the inspiration for Thoth, an Egyptian god.  Later, they discover the reciprocal relationship between Tweel's people, the Thoth, and the barrelmen from the previous story.  Later, as they leave the city, Jarvis and Leroy are drawn to a valley where they are seeing things that aren't there and Tweel fiercely interferes long enough for both of them to realize that the valley is filled with dream beasts.  After the struggle to get free, they return home and speculate as to how the Martian world became what they had become through an absence of coal and oil, the use of the sun for energy and the slow loss of water over many many years.  Jarvis also reveals that he turned over atomic weaponry as gratitude for all that he did.  When the others object, he justifies the good gesture by saying Mars is inhabitable at best and that it would create a good future relationship for trading. 

Reflection

What's fascinating about this story is that while Weinbaum's first posed an interesting questions around neutral first encounters and life-forms that are non-carbon, this story delves into the questions about symbiotic alien relationships, environmental destruction, and the future of human kind.  Additionally, Weinbaum predicts solar-power and offers some considerations of what alien relations will look like in the future.  It's a fun story but also a positive forward-looking one that is surprising to see emerge from the 1930s.  Definitely worth a read!    

Rating:  5 (out of 5 stars)


Source:  The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum by Stanley G. Weinbaum.  Ballantine Books, 1974.  You can read the story for free on this website.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #406: The Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum

Title: The Martian Odyssey

Author: Stanley G. Weinbaum

Summary:

Book cover to The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum.
Jarvis is one among four who are the first to travel to Mars in this classic science-fiction tale from 1934.  He is recounting his tale to his companions after surviving a strange and wild adventure.  While exploring Mars, his transportation fails and he's left trying to get back to his companions across a wide expanse of Mars.  Early in his travails across this unexplored world, he encounters Tweel, a birdlike bipedal who is intelligent and from an advance civilization.  Their ability to communicate is limited but the two work together to make their way across the strange landscape and creatures.  Along the way, they encounter pyramid-creating silicon beasts, semi-sentient grass, dream-beasts, and creatures ceaselessly filling their carts to feed some machine.  Together, Jarvis and Tweel mostly avoid calamity until they disturb the unnatural cavern where the machine sits that the creatures feed.  As the creatures pursue Jarvis and Tweel, they find themselves in a stand-off they are unlikely to win but are saved at the last minute by a crew member.

Reflection

On face value, the story can appear to be just a typical space adventure--the eponymous "odyssey".  But, albeit briefly, Weinbaum makes this tale more align with the epic Odyssey by Homer in that it is not only about a man trying to come home and the strange and alien beings he encounters, but it is also about befriending and working together with a complete and utter stranger.  Tweel and Jarvis are different creatures but their collaboration and willingness to trust one another results in the richer lives and endured safety.   As an alien-first-contact story, it provides an interesting alternative to confrontation and offers connection despite differences.    

Rating:  5 (out of 5 stars)


Source:  The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum by Stanley G. Weinbaum.  Ballantine Books, 1974.  You can read the story for free on this website.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

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Review: The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book in a trilogy and I absolutely loved the first book and this second one is equally as compelling. It took me some time to get into it (I listened to the audiobook) because keeping track of the names was a bit tricky (it's translated from Chinese and names are not as familiar to me). The premise of the novel is that Earth has been made aware of an alien species that is set to come to Earth and destroy human life so that the alien life can prosper. It sounds pretty simple but Cixin crafts so many different layers about what this means, how this could happen, and why interplanetary dialogue is likely to be a very very tricky and problematic venture. The novel reads like an amazing and fascinating chess match among the main characters and the alien entities that I find myself for the first time in a long while impatient to read the final book in the trilogy. While I really enjoyed the first book in the series, this book proved even better.

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Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

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Review: Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beaumont is a fantastic teller of tales and many may already be familiar with him. A good chunk of his short stories eventually ended up as episodes on The Twilight Zone. This collection is filled with a great mixture of stories, many of which invoke the strange and quirkiness of the show. It's a well-chosen collection with something for everyone and many stories carrying a level of timelessness that makes them perfect. His focus is to entertain, not to be literary, yet an occasional tale achieves both. In many ways, this collection feels reminiscent of a contemporary of his, Richard Matheson. If you want a solid anthology to provoke your imagination, you can't go wrong with this one. Also, if you have the chance, opt for the audiobook; it's a rock-solid production.

View all my reviews

Short Story #402: Victims of Time by B. Sridhar Rao

Title: Victims of Time

Author:  B. Sridhar Rao

Summary:

Book cover to the Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction edited by Brian Aldiss
The story begins with a man explaining that the has a headache and is anticipating his death soon.  Though he has been in perfect health recently, the change has to do with one Professor Theta.  Several years prior, Theta had reverse aging in humanity.  This mean that the narrator who was within months of dying was given a new lease on life.  In fact, Theta's work was reversing the aging process for all of humanity so people were actually regressing.  This meant that people stop being born and teenagers became children again.  Theta went into hiding for a while but eventually emerged with the cure, which was released.  Unfortunately for the narrator, the cure will not return people to where they were four years ago, but to where they would have been if the time had continued as it were.  Thus, the narrator explains how he can feel his death coming on pretty fast and the story ends in mid-sentence.  

Reflection

A brief but fun story about the backfiring of science.  It went a bit too fast for me to really like it as I would have liked to hear more from the author in how he used those years lost.  That is, did he waste them or did he make the best of them--that would have impacted the ending a bit more in terms of what I felt for him.  Instead, morbid that I might be, I was just curious if he would die in the way he predicted.  

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  Source:  The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction.  Edited by Brian Aldiss and Sam J. Lundall.    

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #396: Alter-Ego by Hugo Correa

Title: Alter-Ego

Author:  Hugo Correa

Summary:

Book cover of Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction by Brian Aldiss
Antonio receives his alter-ego; a robot that can move about through the world in his place, but is operated through a virtual reality helmet that he must wear.  Once he puts on the gear, he uses the robot to address the real body of Antonio.  He uses Antonio's acting experience to raise the question about the reality and ability of Antonio and his failure, like all men, to fully become something else.  It becomes clear that this speech is one of condemnation and disdain.  Eventually, the robot--through Antonio's actions--takes out a gun and shoots his human body in the head.  

Reflection

A short and stark tale, that is for sure, but a fascinating quick read none the less.  One gets the sense that this is about to happen and it is a deceptive turn from the beginning as we're introduced to the technology.  There's much wonder and thought about what it would mean to move through the world without fear of bodily harm (This is the premise of the film and graphic novel, The Surrogates).  But I find it interesting that Antonio's goal in splitting from his physical body is to use it as a means to distance himself enough to gain the strength to kill himself.  That's a powerful juxtaposition that lingers in the head and leads one to ask what would we do if we could separate mind from body.  

Rating: 4  (out of 5 stars)

Source:  The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction.  Edited by Brian Aldiss and Sam J. Lundall.  The Spanish version of this story is available here.


For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #395: The Half-wit of Zeenemuende by Josef Nesvadba

Title: The Half-wit of Zeenemuende 

Author:  Josef Nesvadba

Summary:

Book cover of Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction by Brian Aldiss
The story introduces us to Bruno, a boy believed to be a half-wit, but one born to a family that could hire a governess to care for him.  One night, the governess's house is struck by a bomb by the Allied bombers, which was strange because there were no other house struck and the house did not seem particularly strategic but the governess was killed.  A new teacher is hired to work with Bruno and he is told that the boy is excellent with numbers though largely difficult to engage with otherwise.  Shortly into his work, the teacher watches Bruno fighting a gang of younger kids when a nearby butcher throws him into the next yard.  That night the butcher's shop is also bombed.  The teacher was warned that Bruno has his own private study where he likes to go but doesn't like others to visit.  Inevitably, the teacher decides to visit this room. He finds Bruno involved in torturing a small animal and is overall suspecious about what he sees in the lab.  He leaves and goes to the father to try to explain what he anticipates and decides not to go home that night.  That night, the teacher watches a small ballistic leave Bruno's room and hit where he lives.  At this point, the teacher and the father go to the local commander, where it is explained that Bruno must have gotten hold of some of the plans that the father, an engineer, was working on for the military.  The Major is excited, believing that the boy has managed a breakthrough that no one else has and looks to use him for the war.  He goes to Bruno and demands he explains what happens and even threatens him, but the boy does nothing.  That night, the boy bombs the Town Hall where the Major is staying, but the Major happened to be in the barracks.  He heads right to Bruno's house and shoots him in the head because he would not cooperate.  It's at this point that a hail of missiles strike the town, killing everyone in the house.

Reflection

This story haunted me in some ways.  Bruno's story seemed to be a backdrop to the other things going on as the story is clearly set in World War II.  One passage that lingers is when we are told what happened to the teacher:  

"These words decided the elderly teacher's fate.  He had unwittingly stumbled on a secret - the nature of what was being produced in the underground factory.  And then, the engineer's son was now more valuable to the authorities than the man who had informed on him.  The teacher disappeared into a concentration camp.  That was what saved his life in the end."

That paragraph is just dropped into the story and we are meant to imagine how the concentration camp could be a saving grace as opposed to a death sentence.  Coupled with this is an interesting damning statement about the nature of the Germans warfare tactics made by the mother after she witnesses the Major kill her.  

Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction.  Edited by Brian Aldiss and Sam J. Lundall.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

More Great Free Books From Amazon & Archive.org

So in previous blog posts, I have occasional shared out some great material that I have found online that is just ripe (and legal) for the taking!  That includes posts on finding great free audiobooks from Librivox.
This has also included a good amount of free ebooks on Amazon's Kindle.   I wrote two posts about this.  The first post entailed a lot of classic works and other useful books.  The second post included more Horror and Science Fiction ebooks.

Well, while aimless surfing on Amazon today, I stumbled upon another trove of materials that I wanted to share out--a handful of Astounding Stories magazines that are on Amazon:

Astounding Stories of Super-Science January 1930
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-Super-Science-January-1930-ebook/dp/B00AQM8HQQ/

Astounding Stories of Super-Science, November, 1930
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-Super-Science-November-1930-ebook/dp/B0082V4TA6/

Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1930 
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-Super-Science-December-1930-ebook/dp/B0039GL1KK/

Astounding Stories, February, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-February-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B0082X87HK/

Astounding Stories, March, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-March-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B0039GL466/

Astounding Stories, April, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-April-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B0039GL24U/

Astounding Stories, May, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-May-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B0039GL3QW/

Astounding Stories, June, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-June-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B004TPAOTE/

Astounding Stories, July, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-July-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B0039GL2U4/

Astounding Stories, August, 1931
http://www.amazon.com/Astounding-Stories-August-1931-Various-ebook/dp/B004TQ0JIE/

But what's more, as I started to look around I also found this amazing resource from Archive.org:  +

The Pulp Magazine Archive

Screen shot of the Pulp Magazine Archive

This amazing resource has over 1600 pulp magazines from the 20th century.  So much to enjoy and peruse!  I hope you enjoyed this share!


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #117: Pillar of Fire by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Pillar of Fire

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

William Lantry awakes hundreds of years in the future after having died in 1933.  He awakes with a burning rage towards mankind and as he learns more about this futuristic place, it only grows.  He discovers that the graveyards of old have been destroyed and he was in one of the last ones.  He's unsure of why he has been brought back to life but he escapes being sent to the incinerator as is done with so many other humans.  Every town has a large incinerator where people dead or about to die are taken to to be cremated.  There appears no sadness in this but that this is merely part of the process.  This world no longer lies or commits violence.    Ceremonies and funerals are a thing of the past.  Enraged by this new world, William sets to killing people and destroying the incinerators.  However, in his travels, he meets a man named McClure who knows who Lantry is and wants to study him.  Lantry goes along initially believing that he could kill McClure if it gets too complicated.  Having connected Lantry to the recent violence, McClure tricks him and ultimately captures him and brings him to the incinerator to die.  Lantry's final words are references to past horror writers like Poe, Machen, and others. 

Reflection

This is probably the best story within the anthology.  Bradbury uses the rage and hate within Landry to connect it to a literary past (which no one remembers this future) to Poe, Lovecraft, Bierce, and others.  We still see the revisited themes of the present wiping out the literary past (akin Fahrenheit 451 and other Bradbury tales) but this time, there seems to be a different emotion of rage and anger about that lost while simultaneously invoking the violence embedded within those horror tales. 

Short Story #117 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 4/18/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #116: The Screaming Woman by Ray Bradbury

Title:  The Screaming Woman

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverThe protagonist introduces herself to the reader as Margaret and explains that she is a 5th grader who while in the empty lot behind her house, heard a screaming woman from beneath the ground.  When she tries to tell her parents, they won't believe her because they think she is playing some game.  She does convince her friend Dippy to help but his attention and aid is often limiting.  They try to dig the woman out and speculate on who it could be.  She eventually goes door to to door to see if any woman is not present at home.  She finds one person whom she suspects and the man keeps her in his house as long as he can, hoping that the buried woman dies before anything can be done.  But finally he lets her go home.  When she is home, she hums a tune that her father recognizes.  The tune was the song a woman sang to him before he married his wife who just happens to now be the wife of the man that Margaret suspected.  The father now runs off to dig the woman out and Margaret calls her friend Dippy to say that she will be saved.

Reflection

The story had some good elements to it such as the failure to believe children and the child (in this case, a female) proves them all wrong.  However, the ending left much to be desired.  That it was tied together by a song sung to the father years before I could appreciate, but the final end where Margaret calls Dippy felt a bit empty, unnecessary, and rushed.  

Short Story #116 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/16/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #115: Dark They Were, And Golden-Eyed by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Dark They Were, And Golden-Eyed

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverThe Bittering family lands on Mars and the father, Harry, is already a bit resentful and would like to return to Earth.  They have left Earth in fear how it will self-destruct under the power of the atom bomb.  However, the family settles into life in the Martian town while Harry continues to long to return to Earth and even begins to rebuild his own spaceship to get him there.  He becomes worried about the Earth-life on Mars that is slowly being changed.  Peach blossoms do not produce the same kinds of peaches that were on Earth.  Harry refuses to eat and food grown on Mars.  He slowly digs into the preserves while his family and everyone else eats Martian food.  He notices changes in his family and others.  Their eyes slowly turn golden and their skin darkens.  People are becoming taller and thinner as well.   More changes come as somehow, Martian words slowly become used in lieu of standard English terms.  Eventually, the entire town decides to move up into the mountain pavillions where the Martians originally lived and abandoned the Earth-made town.  Years later, when more rockets land and find the town abandoned they encounter the humans-that-are-no-longer-humans and perceive them as Martians.  

Reflection

This is the essential Bradbury story.  We have nostalgia for the past (Harry wanting to keep life on Mars the same as it was on Earth), fear of the present (establishing Mars because Earth is going to self-destruct in an atomic war), and transformation (or even corruption) of humankind (into Martians).  We also have the forgotten past and the man against society (Harry's battle to return to Earth despite everyone else being happy on Mars).  It's probably one of the better versions of Bradbury's Mars tales--it flies above in some ways, The Million Year Picnic in this same edition--but because he's written this type of tale so often, the power of this is diluted. 

Short Story #115 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/16/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #114: The Million-Year Picnic by Ray Bradbury

Title:  The Million-Year Picnic

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverA family lands on Mars and explores the area.  The father explains that they are going on a picnic.  They get to Mars and unpack all the food and supplies they got.  They then begin exploring.  The children are excited but unclear what is going on.  Eventually, they parents slowly explain that much of Earth is falling into chaos and destruction through atomic war and that they are one of the few families with spare rockets to make it out alive.  They continue to explore the planet and the parents let them choose the abandoned city that they want to live in.  All the while, the parents promise to show them Martians and such so once they are settled into the city they want to live, the father takes them to a water pool and points to their reflection to explain that they are now the Martians.  

Reflection

I kept wondering if they were going to be the Martians in the end--especially with the story's name.  I would need to go back and look but this feels like one of the stories from The Martian Chronicles.  It's pretty standard fare for Bradbury--a family out exploring the planet and finding it their new home.

Short Story #114 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/15/2014
SourceS Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970. 

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #113: Come into My Cellar by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Come into My Cellar

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverHugh awakes on a nice sunny day in an optimistic mood.  He greets his neighbor who is generally a friend and intelligent older woman who is complaining about bugs and flying saucers.  He goes downstairs to his family and learns that his son has received an order for growing mushrooms and is off to the basement.  Later on, Hugh goes into town and runs into Roger who says he thinks something is going wrong with the world but he can't seem to put his finger on it.  He returns home and finds that his son's mushrooms are growing wild already.  Shortly after this, he receives a telegram from Roger telling him something weird is going on and he's trying to get to the bottom of it.  Hugh calls the police to help and get Roger but by the time get him, Roger has no memory of what he did.  Hugh knows something is wrong but he can't put his finger on it until he learns that other children have been ordering the mushrooms and that his neighbor had spent much of the day removing mushrooms from her yard.  Finally, he understands what's going on and realizes it's some kind of alien invasion.  He goes to the basement door and calls to his son.  In the final sentence, he goes down into the basement with the wild mushrooms.  

Reflection

Standard fare for Bradbury and another Invasion of the Body Snatchers trope--though  I guess it would be Invasion of the Fungi People?  It's a fun read but nothing special.

Short Story #113 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/15/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #107: Chrysalis by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Chrysalis 

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverDr. Rockwell is called in to take a look at a man named Smith by his friend, Hartley.  Rockwell declares him dead and is about to leave when Hartley insists that he check his heart one more time.  When Rockwell checks, he waits a bit longer and discovers there is the slightest of heartbeats.  Hartley begins to explain that Smith went into this state a while back and had not decomposed but just lays there in an inactive state.  Eventually, Hartley also explains that Smith does emit some telepathic thoughts on occasion.  Rockwell is intrigued and takes him to his private laboratory.  Hartley becomes increasingly erratic and pressures Rockwell to destroy it but the doctor refuses.  He slowly makes sense of Smith and believes the man entered into a cocoon like state and would eventually come back in a new form.  Eventually, Hartley decides he must try to kill it himself but before he can, Smith returns to life, which further scares Hartley as he is showing the symptoms that Smith showed prior to his cocoon phase.  Rockwell does tests on Smith and everything comes out normal.  Smith takes his leave and when out of sight of everyone, he lifts up into the air and into space--revealing that he has become the next stage of human evolution.  

Reflection

A fun story and a decent opening for this anthology (I haven't read these stories in order).  I drift towards stories that often have a human/nonhuman at the center.  The essential "other" that looks like us but we believe isn't us and will generate enough fear that push people to want to take life.  The story also has a bit of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers to it and even hits a bit upon elements of Zero Hour to it.  


Short Story #107 out of 365
Rating: 3  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/12/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #106: Icarus Montgolfier Wright by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Icarus Montgolfier Wright

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverJebediah Prentiss has just built the first rocket.  In the excitement, he is asked what is his name.  This question sends him back through history to the pivotal moments and inventions that led to this moment from Icarus's first flight, to Montgolfier's first flight in an air balloon to the Wright brothers' first flight on a plane.  Finally, he answers the boy that his name is Icarus Montgolfier Wright.  

Reflection

It's a short description but a very short story that again plays on a bit of nostalgia and hero worship for Bradbury.  While I can appreciate homage to the past figures, I felt this was a bit too heavy-handed.  However, as the ending story to this sci-fi anthology--it does make a certain poetic sense.  

Short Story #106 out of 365
Rating: 1 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/9/2014
SourceS Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970. 

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #105: The Flying Machine Ray Bradbury

Title:  The Flying Machine

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Summary

Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book coverThe story takes place in China in 400 A.D.  A servant comes rushing into the Emperor's room explaining that he has witnessed a miracle that the Emperor must know about.  The Emperor plays coy with the servant but eventually lets the servant explain that he witnessed a man operating a flying machine.  The servant brings him to the man who flew and the Emperor questions the man.  After ascertaining that no one else knows about it and that this is the only one, he has the guards take him into custody and summons the executioner.  He then shows his own technology but explains that his technology just increases beauty whereas the beauty that this man has created would wreak havoc upon the Emperor's beautiful world.  

Reflection

This is a bit of a dark story that reminds me of Frank Herbert's Cease Fire or Theodore Thomas's Day of Succession in its brute force and clear fear of the future.  This attempt to squelch knowledge is a curious one at least coming from Bradbury who is so often fearing the future because of where technology has supposedly led us but also condemning the past for its limitations on the development of technology and knowledge.    

Short Story #105 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/9/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.