Several of the 22 stories in this collection had been previously published in such magazines as The New Yorker, Charm, American Mercury, Saturday Evening Post, The Reporter, Epoch, and others. Although there were a handful of tales that I found to be lackluster and anticlimactic (“I See You Never,” “The Wilderness,” “Invisible Boy,” “The Garbage Collector” and a few others), the sheer variety and breadth of topics covered clearly demonstrates Bradbury’s prowess as a master storyteller (as if we didn’t know this already!)
My favorites include:
“The Fog Horn” – Attracted year after year by the sound of a fog horn installed near a lighthouse, a legendary and elusive sea creature finally decides to attack.
“The April Witch” – A young witch with the ability to inhabit other creatures desperately wants to know what it’s like to fall in love.
“The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl” – After murdering a man in his home, the killer becomes obsessed with removing all trace of his presence—over every nook and cranny of the house.
“The Murderer” – An average man in search of peace and quiet destroys all of his electronic devices in a society where constant chatter from watches, radios, computers, phones, and TV have pervaded—nay, INVADED!—everyday life.
“A Sound of Thunder” – A travel company offers safaris to any year in the past, but disobeying the rules even slightly could be a mistake that follows you back to the future!
“Powerhouse” – A married couple traveling into town on horseback takes refuge against a storm in a powerhouse. Though she does not believe in God, the wife has an electrifying out of body experience.
“The Meadow” – A construction crew is ordered to tear down the backlot structures of a movie studio, where sets from every corner of the world have provided a second home to Smith, the night watchman. Determined to restore it all, Smith picks up a hammer and begins to rebuild it all, to the consternation of the wealthy investor who ordered the demolition.
“The Great Fire” – Marianne is visiting her uncle and aunt for the summer, upsetting her uncle’s peaceful existence. Every evening, Marianne dashes out of the house when her boyfriend arrives, giving her uncle hope that marriage is in the air and Marianne will soon move out—but Grandma knows the joke’s on him!
“Hail and Farewell” – A 43-year-old man, who appears no more than twelve, moves from town to town every few years masquerading as an orphan or a runaway in order to be adopted by childless couples.