On Tuesday, I joined the crowd gathered at
to watch Venus pass in front of the sun. I told my two boys to get a good look because the next time it happened, they’d be 109 and 111 years old, respectively. City College
But all I could think about while peering through that spotting scope was Margot, the little girl who got locked in the closet on Venus in Ray Bradbury’s ‘All Summer in a Day.’
I must have read that story thirty years ago, but it was clearly unforgettable. From there, my thoughts wandered to Hollis, the doomed astronaut who blazed through the atmosphere at the end of ‘Kaleidoscope.’ That’s the kind of story that makes you rethink your whole day.
I grew up reading Ray Bradbury. He was the subject of all my book reports from 1979-1983. He got me excited about science fiction. He’d famously claim that he wasn’t at heart a science fiction writer, but he was.
‘The Martian Chronicles’ kept me up at night wondering about future histories. ‘Fahrenheit 451’ made me worry that we might not have any future at all. And ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ instilled in me a lifelong fear of demonic circuses.
Ray Bradbury made me want to be a writer. Strange then, waking up on Wednesday to learn he had died. Best of luck, Ray. Like the small boy on the country road at the end of ‘Kaleidoscope,’ I’ll join the world’s sci-fi readers and make a wish. And because I could not resist the temptation, a small tribute:
“Damn totalitarian government,” Gary Montag growled, inching his way into the frigid water.
“Stop your complaining,” Mildred scolded, shivering in the hot tub. “Once you get in, it’s not so bad.”
Montag glared at his wife. “What would be the crime in heating the water?” He finally took the plunge, collapsing into the icy froth. “I’m growing weary of this dystopia.”
“You’ve heard the stories,” Mildred reminded him. “Back in the day, people got so relaxed in their hot tubs that productivity suffered. The economy all but collapsed. No, I think the new law makes sense.”
“Well, I’m not going to take it anymore,” Montag announced, reaching for the thermostat.
“That’s forbidden,” Mildred shrieked.
“It’s time somebody stood up for the people,” Montag said, flipping the switch. The heater roared to life.
Mildred dialed 911. “You’re in hot water now, baby,” she said as the SWAT team moved into position.