I Sing The Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury

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isingthebody.jpgThis 1969 collection of short stories (and one poem) by legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles; Fahrenheit 451), and which you can reserve online here, has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.  Rereading it recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well most of the tales, which date from 1947 to 1967, still hold up.  (Here's the cover of the paperback edition I read way back when.)

Many of the stories use their respective genre situations to create senstitive character studies and situations.  The title story, which takes it's name from a Walt Whitman poem, centers on the relationship between a widower's young children and their robotic "grandmother" and what each learns from the other.  The touching and hilarious "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby's Is a Friend of Mine" focuses on the friendship between a young boy and an author claiming to be Charles Dickens in the summer of 1929 and their effect on each other and the community.  "The Kilimanjaro Device" is both a time travel tale and a homage/pastiche to the writings of Ernest Hemingway. "Tomorrow's Child" deals with the difficult decision a couple must make when their newborn is born into another dimension. "The Lost City of Mars" (which ties in with The Martian Chronicles) has human travelers finding their intermost dreams and desires personified by the eponymous city.   And Bradbury gets to do some nice Irish-based stories with the humorous "The Terrible Conflagration up at the Place" and the slightly more grim "The Haunting of the New".

There's more offbeat stories in the collection, which include the frightening tales "The Women" and "Heavy-Set", as well as the charming (if corny) "The Inspired Chicken Hotel" and the suspenseful "Night Call, Collect".  And the poem "Christus Apollo" is an ambitious and heartfelt (if slightly off-center) work that equates Jesus Christ with the need for space exploration.

If you enjoy Twilight Zone-like fantasy tales with twist endings and emphasis on characterzation, and you don't mind dramatic shifts in tone (comedy; drama; horror), I Sing The Body Electric! is wholeheartedly recommended!

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This page contains a single entry by Ed published on May 6, 2010 9:27 AM.

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