Ray Bradbury may be the most famous science fiction writer, ever.
Such bold statements are always debatable, and buffs of the genre may be quick to rattle off names more deserving of recognition. Yet with titles like “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and “The Illustrated Man” under his belt, along with having his hands in countless other television productions, movie scripts and more, it’s not hard to reason Bradbury as one of the best.
Bradbury is credited as the author of 27 novels and more than 600 short stories, so the well of possible works to read by the author won’t run dry any time soon for most readers, even his most dedicated fans. One of his more well known short stories, “The Playground,” stands as a great introduction to the author, his style and his ability to grip readers with strong plot, characterization and frequently some well planned twists.
“The Playground” initially ran as a primer to “Fahrenheit 451,” having been printed as part of the first hardcover edition of the novel when it was published in 1953. While it hasn’t been included since, the short story has recently been approved as the first work by Bradbury to be sold in ebook format, and is now on sale exclusively for the Amazon Kindle. Hopefully more of Bradbury’s shorter works — as well as more short stories in general, which have always had a hard time selling in traditional book stores — will follow this path, as such a delight of a read is one heck of a bargain for less than a dollar.
Bradybury’s “The Playground” revolves around Charles Underhill — a recent widower who is now very protective of his only son, Jim. Charles walks past his town’s playground every day to and from work, and pays special attention to the cruelty children commit to one another while playing on it. The father vows to never put his child through such pain, going so far as to state he would home school his child if it meant saving him the pain of ridicule and bullying Charles witnesses on a daily basis.