Monday, April 7, 2014

BRADBURY: Classic Stories from Ray Bradbury

Published in 1990 by Bantam Books
Science Fiction / Fantasy

When I stumbled across this anthology in the library recently, I thought it would be a perfect choice to fulfill one of my requirements for the science fiction/fantasy genre. Ray Bradbury is one of the most famous and most prolific writers of the 20th century. He was born August 22, 1920, and died June 15, 2012. He won many awards spanning his 70 year writing career and is best known for writing fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery novels, and short stories. I have used many of Bradbury's writings in my English classes throughout the years, and students love them. Two of my students' favorites include two short stories: "The Cold Equation" and "The Sound of Thunder." "The Cold Equation" is not included in this anthology, probably because it is too long, but "The Sound of Thunder" is included. Bradbury's most famous novels include Fahrenheit 51, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. 

Bradbury: Classic Stories 1 from The Golden Apples of the Sun and R is for Rocket is divided into two parts. The first part of the book includes 18 short stories from The Golden Apples of the Sun, and the second part of the book includes 14 short stories from R is for Rocket. Many of the stories in this anthology appeared originally in The New Yorker, Mademoiselle, American Mercury, Charm, The Reporter, Epoch, Collier's, and The Saturday Evening Post (front matter).

Like any anthology, some stories are better than others; some would be appropriate to use in a classroom setting, and others would not. "The Sound of Thunder," a story about dinosaurs, is often included in high school literature books. Other stories, however, such as "The Garbage Collector" might not be well-received. This story is about a garbage collector who finds that his job has changed one day. Garbage collectors have been notified that if an atom bomb drops on their city, they will immediately stop what they are doing and begin collecting the bodies. He considers quitting his job, but his wife, on the other hand, thinks nothing of it. Her attitude is that it's just a job that must be done. As the garbage collector considers the aftermath of an atomic bomb, he tries to figure out how he would stack the bodies in his garbage truck and considers whether or not he should keep the men, women, and children together or separate them. He describes in detail the dilemma of the rotting corpses. Not all stories in this anthology are as dark as "The Garbage Collector." Anyone considering this anthology should use caution when choosing stories to read to children.

Although I highly recommend this book, I would encourage teachers to choose stories that would be appropriate for their particular age group. Ray Bradbury challenges his readers to think about ordinary things in new ways. Readers who like this genre will enjoy this book because the stories are short and easy to read. They also are designed to catch the read by surprise, and that's what makes Bradbury's writing so popular.

Ray Bradbury's Official Website
Ray Bradbury's Books

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