Friday, March 2, 2012

Bradbury Friday: Kaleidoscope

"I decided one morning forty-six years ago to explode a rocket and toss my astronauts out into a wilderness of Space to see what would happen. The result was a story that was reprinted in countless anthologies and appeared and reappeared in high school and college auditoriums. Students across country performed the story in class, to teach me once again that theater doesn't need sets, lights, costumes, or sound. Just actors in school or in someone's  garage or storefront speaking the lines and sensing the passion. 
"How do you cram a million miles of interplanetary flight onto a stage forty feet wide and twenty deep before an audience of ninety-nine? You just do it. And when the last human meteor fires down the sky, there's not a dry eye in the house. All Space, Time, and the heartbeats of seven men are trapped in the words which, when spoken, set them free." --Ray Bradbury, in the Introduction to The Illustrated Man.

Clearly, Kaleidoscope, is one of Bradbury's most popular short stories. It's no wonder Mike McDonough chose this story as one of the Bradbury 13 series. It is one that has been done and analyzed and looked at for years. Printed and re-printed. In the Bradbury 13 episode, some of the characters are a bit different (through dialog and what happens to them) than in the original story. But the resounding message is the same. How would you handle the death that is suddenly and unexpectedly facing you? You cannot change what is before you, so what do you do with the time you have left, simply floating until the end arrives? How would you cope?

As a kid, I really liked this story. It's hard to pin-point why, though. It must be the abstract concept that is presented there. What do you do with your end? You cannot change what has happened in your past, and your future is certain. You must now come to terms with yourself. Are you ready to do that? Now, as a child, I certainly didn't have those thoughts, and probably didn't really have a full understanding of the meaning behind such a fate. But I was drawn to this story. And reading it, now, there is still something about it that draws me in.

I reccomend this story in any form. The written story is available in the book The Illustrated Man or in The Stories of Ray Bradbury. You can listen to the Bradbury 13 edition that I heard as a kid, avaliable for purchase on And for anyone who is interested, there is also the 1951 radio version created by Dimension X, free on YouTube. Click Here for the link of that 30 minute video. 

Join me next week for another story that "almost could be, or might have been."

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