Recently, I have been thinking of Bradbury's dark side. I remember the dark feeling I got when I first read The Illustrated Man (the novel). The introduction perfectly intrigued me. I was not disappointed with what followed. I believe the first story in that anthology was "The Velt." Of all Bradbury's stories, I think this one wins the prise in my mind as the most ruthless, and unfeeling. I know some of you will talk about "The Small Assassin" and some others, but I still think the "Velt" is the scariest.
"The Veldt" may well be the most frightening in terms of a mix between pure evil and the corruption of supposedly innocent children. That blend is what makes it so "creepy" to me.
I enjoyed "The October Game" in that it is just a classic, straight-forward horror story.
"The Dwarf" ranks for me as one of the scariest -- but not as an evocation of murderous evil. It shows the absolute cruelty and heartlessness toward our fellowman that we seem capable of. The pure malice of what is done to the Dwarf is a manifestation of cruelty that is horrendous to me. The frightening thing is, we can see this kind of callousness without having to look toward serial killers and tyrants.
"The Playground" is another of Bradbury's stories that gives me the creeps. It is a story in which there is just no redemption. That idea seems frightening to me.
The really scary thing is how the thought "Ray beat them to it again" leaps to mind on hearing certain news stories.
For "The Veldt," consider the story of 11-year-old twin boys from Henderson, N.C. who, early in 1999, killed their father and wounded their sister and mother in a shooting rampage at their home. William Harvey Bawcum Jr., 46, was shot to death while racing up the stairs of his home to the aid of his wife, Deborah. The Bawcums' 16-year-old daughter, Robin, also was wounded. The fifth-graders were charged as juveniles with first-degree murder and assault, with the possibility, if convicted, of being sent to a juvenile facility until age 18. Youths under 13 cannot be tried as adults in North Carolina. Family friends said the shootings erupted after Deborah Bawcum, 45, tried to take a hunting rifle she found on a bed in the boys' room. The boys were said to be perfectly calm immediately following all this. One of them, while checking on a pet rabbit, claimed the shootings were done by an intruder and "we didn't know who he was." They were sentenced to up to six years for the crimes, which was four years ago--they could be out soon if they aren't now.
As for "The October Game," consider the case of JonBenet Ramsey, with the bizarre twist of her father being the fool who switched on the lights! (Bizarre because in the considered opinion of many, he placed her body where he pretended to "discover" it.) Even more chillingly, in that case, whoever did it has so far gotten away with it.
In the case of "The Playground," look at school shootings, which have been committed by children as young as 6. Consider the case of Eric Smith, a 13-year-old boy in upstate New York who killed a four-year-old boy using sticks, rocks, and his bare hands. The other day, three boys, ages 14, 15, and 18, were caught with an entire arsenal on the verge of carrying out a murder spree.
I hadn't connected these stories to anything "real". Perhaps, because his stories preceded the events, we need to get his stories banned?
I've always heard that some people credit Ray with coming up with the idea behind virtual reality in "The Veldt," which was written about 40 years before we started to see it in arcades, movies, etc.
Someone in the past posted a list of inventions that were anticipated in Bradbury's works. It would be fun to see that boosted up again.
The Virtual Reality of "The Veldt" was one. Interactive and full-wall tv were in F451. The walkman and hidden-ear communications were also from F451.
I remember there were quite a few, but can't recall the others.
"The Murderer" was the most right on to right now. Everyone with their cell phone, their pager, their palm pilot, their bugbear (whatever that is), and not to mention, the good old laptop, gives a whole new dimension to work following them home, and home following them everywhere!
Wow! I didn't know I would get responses like you have given me. I remember reading "Marionettes, Inc." It occurred to me, that Bradbury was having fun with our fear of "manequins and other lifeless human forms." As I recall, we do not know who won out in the climax of the story. Bradbury was very careful not to reveal the answer in the denouement. To me, this is scary because who is to say if our neighbor is who he says he is. Ha!
It seemed pretty clear to me that the "artificial," manufactured man won out. The marionette had more passionate feeling than the man who ordered him made, raising the question, what is human?
Ask Stephen Spielberg, and the late Stanley Kubrick. ask David? A.I.
I always found his way of having characters turning into the very thing they feared an interesting twist.
Like many of the martian stories where they go searching for Martians and get attacked and such then some of their own go "native" and become the very martians they were searching for (ie, And the moon be still as bright...)
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