The October Country: Not Your Typical Bradbury Stories

article, articles, Fahrenheit 451, halloween, halloween books, halloween children's books, haunted mansions, ray bradbury, Uncategorized / Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The Spook-a-thon and The October Country: An Intro

Yes, I saved the best for last. My first read for the Spook-a-thon was The October Country by Ray Bradbury.  In early October, I contemplated about creating a list of collected short stories that would be good for Halloween. During my research, I discovered The October Country. Instead of compiling the list, I decided to work on the Spook-a-thon instead.

Science Fiction and Ray Bradbury are like Milk and Cookies

After reading, I was very surprised Ray Bradbury created these short stories. Not because he’s not an absolute genius of a writer, but because of the genre of this collection. I peg Bradbury as a Science Fiction writer. Though, I found The October Country in the Science Fiction portion of my library, I do not believe this book belongs there. My idea of Science Fiction is space, aliens, and dystopias!

The name Ray Bradbury brings to my mind visions of dystopian book burning or living on Venus. It all begins with my first encounter with him. Back when I was a slouching Freshman, I read Fahrenheit 451. Now that I stand straighter, I have slowly been revisiting him.

When it comes to reading, like in social situations, your first impression is usually your last. For over a decade now, I have put Mr. Bradbury’s works to bed. Last year, I read The Halloween Tree and though it veered away from what I would say is typical Science fiction fare. I thought it was a fluke. He couldn’t possibly write more stories like The Halloween Tree. Again, an assumption of mine is proven wrong. With The October Country he writes in the same way as The Halloween Tree (perfect for lovers of that book).

Even GoodReads’s definition of Science Fiction perfectly describes his usual fare:

“is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theatre, and other media. In organizational or marketing contexts, science fiction can be synonymous with the broader definition of speculative fiction, encompassing creative works incorporating imaginative elements not found in contemporary reality; this includes fantasy, horror and related genres.”

After reading, The October Country very few to none of these stories contain these elements. Really, if I didn’t know any better this collection would seem to be a very tamed Stephen King collection.

Some Notes on Bradbury and The October Country

Even though Ray Bradbury does not roll out his science fiction red carpet for this collection, I highly enjoyed reading through it! This collection is amazing and shows off the skilled abilities. What can I say, Ray Bradbury is an absolute genius. And I am totally jealous.

Many of his tales are perfect for the Halloween season and automatically gets you in the spooky vibe. A good portion of the short stories have a surprise twist that would be at home in any horror movie. Typically, many of these twists are unexpected which is rare enough in a culture where the same twist is used over and over again.

While reading, I read each short story as a darker set of The Twilight Zone episodes. In my head , Rod Serling, the narrator, appears taking me through each story as he would do countless episodes of his show. Not surprisingly, at least one of Bradbury’s short stories was adapted as an episode of the Twilight Zone: “I Sing the Body Electric.”

Though a few of the short stories made me feel like I stepped in The Twilight Zone, I also spotted a few interesting lines. Once in a while as I read, I notice lines that are so edgy (or what middle schoolers would consider edgy which usually involves something emotionless). While I was reading through “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse,” I noticed this particular line: “Notice his expression. Very cool. I wish could look so uncaring, so unemotional” (61). I wish I was so cool hipsters would randomly congregate at my house.

The Stories:

The Dwarf

The Next in Line

The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse


The Jar

The Lake

The Emissary

Touched with Fire

The Small Assassin

The Scythe

Uncle Einar

The Wind

The Man Upstairs

There was an Old Woman

The Cistern


The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone

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