Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Can I just bask in the eternal sunshine that is Ray Bradbury for a moment?

Speaking of sunshine—or the opposite of sunshine, in this case—in my humble opinion, Ray Bradbury wrote one of the best stories about rain ever to exist in the history of literature.

Its title is maybe a little too obvious—The Long Rain—but when I read it for the first time this July, I thought, Wow—so this is how plot obstacle is done. And who knew it could be as simple as rain? I’ll let the master do the setup with the story’s opening paragraph:

"The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a down-pour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men's hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped."

The rest of the story follows the main characters—visitors to Venus, where it has been raining nonstop for all time—whose want is to find the rainy planet’s elusive “Sun Domes,” which are reported to be heated, rain-free shelters. And you, the reader, cannot help but be drenched in the relentlessness of the obstacle, and glued to the page as a result.

Maybe this is one of those perverse equations of humanity that explains why we are all so inordinately captivated by stories—even though any person in their right mind would try to flee from the relentlessness of this infernal, Bradbury rain, it is somehow that very relentlessness (and the attached desires) that won’t let us turn away from the page. And the more relentless the better—clearly! Excuse me while I slip off and try to find the nearest Sun Dome. Wish me luck!

Quote from: Bradbury, Ray. Ray Bradbury: The Martian Chronicles; The Illustrated Man; The Golden Apples of the Sun. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, Inc.; 2010. Story is from the collection, The Illustrated Man, p334, ¶1.

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