Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Favorite Short Story

I've mentioned The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury before as my favorite comfort book. It also contains my favorite short story. (Though, if we had to pick second place, it would contain at least three of the ten or so I would tie for that honor.)

My favorite is called "There Will Come Soft Rains," which is the title of a poem by Sara Teasdale to which the story refers. The two lines of the poem that really encapsulate the theme of the short story are "Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, / If mankind perished utterly." The story is about an automated house that continues to do its work (alarm clocks, weather reports, making breakfast, vacuuming, etc.) after the inhabitants (and, seemingly, everyone else) are dead. Human extinction became a really big theme after nuclear weapons became a real threat, and I think this poem and this story are excellent examples of the subgenre.

I don't read a lot of short stories, but while in a Major Authors class in college, I read one by Octavia Butler.  Now, this class gave me a huge appreciation and love for this author (Female, African-American sci-fi writer.)  She wrote a lot of post-apocalyptic books, which is something I love to read anyway.

She wrote a book called "Bloodchild and other stories" and, while I didn't read the whole book, I did read a story called "Speech Sounds."  It basically works on the premise that a disease has spread throughout mankind, rendering many of them unable to read, write, speak, understand speech, or any combination thereof.  Rye, our protagonist, can still speak, and meets Obsidian, a man who can still read.  

It's well written, and short, and by an author I love.  Pick something up by her if you have the chance.  And, just in case you want to read it, here's a probably legal copy of "Speech Sounds."

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