It’s Saturday, so let’s get weird!
Today’s edition of Oddities Theater is particularly special for me because it involves a story I read over and over again as a child, Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Around the age of nine or ten, I became completely obsessed with Ray Bradbury’s fiction. I used to walk around the school library, literally removing every book from the shelf to examine the cover art and to read each story synopsis. I’ll never forget the moment I first pulled Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles off that rickety bookshelf. My mind set afire. I had to have every word in my brain immediately! I pulled all of Bradbury’s books off the shelf, all the one’s they had anyway. I distinctly remember bringing at least three of them home with me that day: The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and The Illustrated Man.
You know those moments in life that are so gargantuan you immediately recognize that you are no longer the person you used to be? When something like that happens, you are violently thrown down another path and oftentimes that path is dark and strange and horrifying… well, for me, discovering Bradbury’s writing felt like all of those things combined, but I was also incredibly excited to dive into those worlds. It felt like I was exploring a new planet, some strange world where everything felt peculiar and foreign (it wasn’t until I was a bit older before I realized just how similar Bradbury’s worlds were to our own dismal reality).
Another great memory I have from that day was coming home and seeing my dad’s reaction to seeing me reading The Martian Chronicles in the living room. He was ecstatic. He told me he too loved Bradbury’s books as a child. I remember him going on a rant about The Illustrated Man, which got me even more excited to read it.
Something Bradbury was the master of (still to this day, I’ve yet to read an author who has done it better) was getting the reader to feel intense dread and horror despite every [masterfully placed] word within the story describing bright, joyous scenes. For example, another short story found in The Martian Chronicles, “The Musicians,” describes a particularly fun day for a handful of rambunctious children living on a Mars colony. They run through the old Martian cities, now in ruins, and play music on what they call “white xylophones,” but are actually Martian ribcages. The story is written beautifully, with both nostalgia and whimsy, but as you read, you can help but to think of how disturbing it all really is.
Okay, I’m ranting.
My point is that the story used in today’s Oddities Theater presentation has a similar feeling. As you watch, think about how unsettled you feel, despite the fact that there’s no real horror present. The horror is implied and you, the viewer, are left to interpret exactly what it is. I love this story so much and I’m excited to share it with those of you who may not have read/seen it before now.
The last thing I’ll say on this is a bit of a SPOILER, so you may not want to read until after you watch today’s video. Bradbury was inspired to write this story during the Cold War, particularly after the testing of the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb on January 30th, 1950. It’s appropriate that this animation, which was produced in Russia, is seen today, in light of recent events.
Hope you all enjoy!