BooksOfTheMoon

S is for Space

By Ray Bradbury

Rating: 3 stars

This collection of short stories was a companion piece to R is for Rocket which I read last year and adored. I found this cheap on Ebay and was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I came away somewhat disappointed. This is almost the antithesis of Rocket in that where that book looked to the future joyously and used the rocket as a symbol of exploration and freedom, this book feels dystopian, and almost bitter and anti-scientific in a way. I wondered if it was because of when the stories were written, in the ’40s and ’50s and the influence of the War, but looking back at Rocket the stories there were from about the same time.

Technically these stories are great, perhaps not all Bradbury at his best but stories like Time in Thy Flight (about a school trip in a time machine), The Million-Year Picnic (a family escape Earth for Mars just before the atomic war breaks out) and The Smile (a boy is touched by art in a post-apocalyptic future) show Bradbury’s talent in full swing but are also all, in their own way, somewhat dystopian.

Overall, these are more cautionary tales and backward-looking fables than the exciting, forward-looking Rocket. I preferred the former the former, but depending on your temperament you may prefer this one.

Book details

ISBN: 9780553232486
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year of publication: 1966

The Golden Apples of the Sun

By Ray Bradbury

Rating: 4 stars

This is a collection of SF and non-genre short stories that Bradbury wrote in the ‘forties and ‘fifties, all with the general theme of characterisation, people and the desires of men and monsters. The tales are told with Bradbury’s trademark flare and style, something that captivates me every time, even when the story itself fails to engage.

As well as containing classic Bradbury shorts like A Sound of Thunder, The Pedestrian, and The Fog Horn, non-SF stories such as The Flying Machine, The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind and The Meadow all leave searing images that linger in the mind.

As with every other Bradbury book I’ve ever read, highly recommended.

Book details

ISBN: 9780380730391
Publisher: William Morrow
Year of publication: 1953

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

Rating: 5 stars

I read this book years ago but pulled it down from the bookshelf to read on the plane home, partly because a friend adores it and has waxed lyrical for some time and partly from my new found interest in Bradbury. The language is Bradbury at his best, using tight prose to flesh out his dystopia in which books are banned and anybody found possessing them has their house burned down by firemen.

The snippets of poetry and quotes are well-chosen to make whatever point Bradbury wants to make at that moment (part of the argument of the firemen, as articulated by fire-chief Beatty, is that books are fickle and can argue against as well as for you) and the bitter-sweet ending is vivid indeed. This one’s recommended for lovers of literature, as well as dystopia fans.

Book details

ISBN: 9780307347978
Publisher: DeBolsillo
Year of publication: 1953

The Small Assassin

By Ray Bradbury

Rating: 3 stars

This is a collection of short horror-themed stories and despite the fact that I’m not normally a horror person, I really rather enjoyed it. Bradbury’s horror isn’t that of blood and guts, it’s the horror of the mundane with a twist, the familiar suddenly made horribly strange. From a mother whose fear of her baby may be well-founded or may be post-natal depression to the man who believes he’s dead, but falls in love.

Written with Bradbury’s trademark flair and thoughtfulness this isn’t a book that will cause nightmares but it will make you think.

Book details

ISBN: 9780450015625
Publisher: New English Library
Year of publication: 1962

R Is for Rocket

By Ray Bradbury

Rating: 5 stars

This is possibly the best book I’ve read all year. Maybe not technically brilliant, but its heart and soul more than made up for that. It’s a collection of short stories written in the ’40s and ’50s and they are all wonderful. These are the sorts of stories that remind me why I love science fiction: not only do they evoke a sense of joy and wonder at the amazing universe we live in, but Bradbury’s writing is poetic, gets under your skin and is a joy to read.

The stories are true Golden Age stuff, all food pills, bubble cars and rocket ships. Most of them invoked the rocket as a symbol of freedom, the future and hope and even in the ones where it was absent, these themes recurred. It’s not perfect, it’s a product of its time, with almost a complete absence of women, but if you can look past its origins, it’s an incredibly rewarding book.

Book details

ISBN: 9780330231664
Publisher: Pan Books
Year of publication: 1962

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