This book of short stories was hit or miss for me, though more hit than miss, especially the scifi stories.The opening story, "The Fog Horn," was haunting and beautiful. I really enjoyed it, though that's not too surprising since it involved the sea.One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless sure and said, "We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I'll make one. I'll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; I'll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I'll make a sound that's so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I'll make me sound and an apparatus and they'll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.The Fog Horn"The April Witch" was definitely creepy, definitely Bradbury.I really enjoyed "The Wilderness" - it was unique and I dug the scifi aspect.They floated in an immense sigh above a town already made remote by the little space between themselves and the Earth, a town receding behind them in a black river and coming up in a tidal wave of lights and color ahead, untouchable and a dream now, already smeared in their eyes with nostalgia, with a panic of memory that began before the thing itself was gone.The Wilderness"The Big Black and White Game" really got to me."The Murderer" was really telling of our current times, and prescient considering it was written in the 1950s."The Great Wide World Over There" was pretty depressing.The morning blew away on a wind, the morning flowed down the creek, the morning flew off with some ravens, and the sun burned on the cabin roof.The Great Wide World Over There"The Great Fire" cracked me up!The second part of the book, sort of second part, which started with a letter from the author, seemed to be made up of mostly scifi stories, which I enjoyed overall. I thought the first story following the note (which had sexist notes but was written in the 60s so I guess I can give it a pass), "R is for Rocket," was really good (again in spite of the sexist tone)."The End of the Beginning," about going into space to build a space station, was full of brilliant writing.All I know is it's really the end of the beginning. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age; from now on we'll lump all those together under one big name for when we walked on Earth and heard the birds at morning and cried with envy. Maybe we'll call it the Earth Age, or maybe the Age of Gravity. Millions of years we fought gravity. When we were amoebas and fish we struggled to get out of the sea without gravity crushing us. Once safe on the shore we fought to stand upright without gravity breaking our new invention, the spine, tried to walk without stumbling, run without falling. A billion years Gravity kept us home, mocked us with wind and clouds, cabbage moths and locusts. That's what's so really big about tonight . . . it's the end of old man Gravity and the age we'll remember him by, for once and all. I don't know where they'll divide the ages, at the Persians, who dreamt of flying carpets, or the Chinese, who all unknowing celebrated birthdays and New Years with strung ladyfingers and high skyrockets, or some minute, some incredible second in the next hour. But we're in at the end of a billion years trying, the end of something long and to us humans, anyway, honorable.
Tonight, he thought, even if we fail with this first, we'll send a second and a third ship and move on out to all the planets and later, all the stars. We'll just keep going until the big words like immortal and forever take on meaning. Big words, yes, that's what we want. Continuity. Since our tongues first moved in our mouths we've asked. What does it all mean? No other question made sense, with death breathing down our necks. But just let us settle in on ten thousand worlds spinning around ten thousand alien suns and the question will fade away. Man will be endless and infinite, even as space is endless and infinite. Man will go on, as space goes on, forever. Individuals will die as always, but our history will reach as far as we'll ever need to see into the future, and with the knowledge of our survival for all time to come, we'll know security and thus the answer we've always searched for. Gifted with life, the least we can do is preserve and pass on the gift to infinity. That's a goal worth shooting for.The End of the Beginning
There was "A Sound of Thunder," which was essentially the main attraction of this book. A movie by the same name came out a few years ago - and it was pretty laughably terrible. The original story is much better (albeit much shorter as well)."The Exiles" started off really eh but I liked the ending."Here There Be Tygers" was interesting to consider; it could be a Doctor Who story. But the Doctor wouldn't approve of Chatterton, whom I wanted to die right away (though that's not a very Doctor-y thought either). His thoughts were also reminiscent of Avatar.You have to beat a planet at its own game," said Chatterton. "Get in and rip it up, kill its snakes, poison its animals, dam its rivers, sow its fields, depollinate its air, mine it, nail it down, hack away at it, and get the blazes out from under when you have what you want. Otherwise, a planet will fix you good. You can't trust planets. They're bound to be different, bound to be bad, bound to be out to get you, especially this far out, a billion miles from nowhere, so you get them first. Tear their skin off, I say. Drag out the minerals and run away before the nightmare world explodes in your face. That's the way to treat them."Here There Be Tygers"Frost and Fire" was a compelling story.The nightmare of the living was begun.Frost and FireEnjoyed "The Time Machine" - it was sweet despite the subject matter.War's never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms.The Time MachineI also enjoyed:- The Flying Machine- I See You Never- The Rocket- The Rocket ManI think this one is worth a read. Final rating: 3.5 stars.