Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hot Dogs and Ray Bradburry

Friday afternoon I made the mistake of eating two hotdogs at The Child's Talent Show on the Last Day of Summer Camp.  The downside of this was that by Friday evening it was clear I should have fasted.  I still felt poorly Saturday morning:  it was sort of like I'd eaten a Deadly Red Pepper.  It seemed wiser to stay at home, so I did, and missed the Hike to the Mountains we had planned with some friends.  (So I missed The First Snowball of Summer, when the hikers discovered snow on the mountain.)

The upside was that I was able to get some writing in, and also to read a great portion of Ray Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man."  I had thought that the book was a novel, but it's a collection of short stories loosely book-ended by the eponymous Illustrated Man's story.  As near as I can tell, a Ray Bradbury story features the following,
  • manly soldiers torn from their families by the seductive beauty of the stars, 
  • the women who love them tragically, and 
  • the sons who are participant-observers of their parents' misplaced loves.  
  • Society is a homogeneous character, and  
  • usually atomic war is a background feature.  

Mars, Venus, and the other planets are the habitable backdrops standing in for Prince Valiant style islands, filled with rain forest jungles, proud warriors, and priests exploring the nature of extraterrestrial sin.  And this is cool; instead of researching the planets, Spacemen simply go there, and Martians simply live there, and, like Swift, Mr Bradbury can take his readers to an Other Place in order to explore a question about the human condition.

I think what I've learned from Mr. Bradbury is that, even after six decades, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Writers still write about writing, Science Fiction Heroes are still typically plucky young males who win the girl at the end, and still what is wild and good in humankind will fail before the banal powers of Hollywood, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, and labor-saving technology.  
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