I Sing the Body Electric! - Ray Bradbury (Review)

Rating: 3.5/5

Summary: A tour through time and space - into the unbounded dimensions of the future and through remapped patters of the past. "You never know what to expect...A windup grandma on the Pinnochio plan. A humanoid Abe Lincoln. A baby born in the - gulp - fifth dimension or something. The ghost of Ernest Hemingway. A prospectus for the perfect urban environment."- The New York Times

Review: This collection of short stories is a pretty good representation of my relationship with Ray Bradbury - an often tumultuous ride of emotions ranging from "AMAZING" to "I don't understand what the fuck is going on" to finally "FUCK YOU, RAY". My introduction to him, as I imagine most others, came from reading his short story "The Veldt" in 10th grade which I became a little obsessed with. I was, and still am, underwhelmed quite often by science fiction but I really enjoyed Bradbury's approach to it. From there, I read The Martian Chronicles which I also adored but began to notice a trend of misogyny and racism seeping into most of his stories which began to turn me off a bit.
At this point, I think I've read most of his work, with the exception of Dandelion Wine , which I'm sure I'll get around to. I actually had to skip a few stories in this collection because I had previously read them, albeit a while ago. I was surprised to realize I almost immediately remembered the story vividly within the first few paragraphs considering it had been at least 3-4 years since I had read them last. And this is why I keep coming back for more - Bradbury, despite my grievances with his uncaring approach to women and minority figures, creates intense, unique imagery that really stick with me. His stories are also incredibly bizarre at times, and often make no logical sense especially in regards to his space travel, time travel, or many of the "futuristic" technologies and mechanics he makes up. Even his characters dialogue and responses to events can seem strange and unnatural, but I've come to view Bradbury's fictional worlds to exist solely within a vacuum he has created. If you can manage to not question it too much, or look for realism within them they each have a sort of spirit that transcends the unusual circumstances. Granted, I sometimes become lost in the details so much so that I begin to dislike the story.

This isn't my favorite collection of his - I much preferred R Is for Rocket which focused a bit more on the theme of space travel and had a more science fiction focus to it. I Sing the Body Electric! was a mixed bag, and lacked the cohesiveness that I enjoyed in the aforementioned book. Some of my favorite stories were Yes, We'll Gather at the River which is a very short, simple tale about a man in a small town adjusting to changes and the future, and The Inspired Chicken Motel about a family during the depression coming across an unusual sight while traveling. I also really enjoyed Tomorrow's Child an almost "pulpy" tale about a baby born into a different dimension which now appears to be a blue pyramid to it's parents.

Final Thoughts:If you're a big Bradbury fan, there's definitely some gems in here that are worth reading the book for. If you aren't super into him, or want an introduction - this is probably my least favorite of the bunch and could be skipped.

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