Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SCI-FI for Warmer Climes

by Casey

If you’re like me, you’re a total nerd for Sci-Fi. The genre whisks us away to Mars, the center of the earth, the future, the past—wherever you feel like exploring there is always a book to bring you there. One of the things I like the most about science-fiction is the dark, dystopian, post-apocalyptic mood. Don’t ask me why I like it, but I’m far from alone in my attraction to dark speculative pasts and futures. However, there are some times when cold and dark is not the flavor of the day. If you’re looking for a sci-fi novel you can really sink your optimistic teeth into, you could do far worse than Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.

In 1957, Ray Bradbury (my second favorite author) took a step away from Martians (The Martian Chronicles) and book-burning (Fahrenheit 451) to paint a sunny portrait of life in the fictitious small town of Green Town, IL. This semi-autobiographical novel is set in 1928 where 12-year-old boy, Douglas Spaulding, enjoys a simpler time before the next World War, where playing, having fun, and being home in time for dinner are his only concerns. That is, until his grandfather lets him in on a most unusual secret.

In the basement, Douglas’s grandfather has been brewing a special potion of dandelion petals and fruit juices that miraculously stores the merriment of the summer months for all year. All the joys of summer in one bottle. In the boy’s words: “Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.”

Unlike many of Bradbury’s work that deal with supernatural elements, Dandelion Wine hopes to leave the reader with a sense that nature and the supernatural are one and the same. There are a few other stories thrown in for good measure, similar in their glorification of the joys of small-town America in times gone by, but the overall theme is one of joy all the time. I wouldn’t really call this “summer reading,” but once you’re into it you may disagree. Enjoy!

Farewell Summer, the sequel to Dandelion Wine, takes place during the Indian summer of 1929. Check it out, too!

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