Short Story #117: Pillar of Fire by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Pillar of Fire

Author:  Ray Bradbury


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. 


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.

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