About Bradbury's Short Stories


Medicine for Melancholy

A Medicine for Melancholy, published in 1959, should perhaps be considered more a work of fantasy than of science fiction since the majority of the short stories contained in the volume are moody, evocative sketches with little or no attempt made to justify their sometimes bizarre content.

The October Country

The October Country is comprised largely of stories originally contained in the limited edition of Dark Carnival, published in 1947 and long since out of print. Bradbury added only five new stories to the collection: "The Dwarf," "The Next in Line," "The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse," "Touched with Fire," and "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone."

Bradbury's "October country" is that place where autumn is a permanent season. The daytime wanes rapidly here and the night lingers on. For Bradbury, light is good and dark is evil, and thus his stories contain many cisterns, cellars, closets, and coal bins, all of which are devoid of the sun. Likewise, his characters are autumn people, those who function in this dark environment and whose evil natures flourish here.

The October Country smacks of the macabre. These tales are bizarre and terrifying, and a large number of them are sheer pieces of horror. Many are indicative of Bradbury's love of the carnival since they contain witches, dwarves, and other carnival freaks. Yet even these stories, written with their built-in shock value, are indicative of Bradbury's more moralistic writings which were later to come, for many of these stories contain underlying philosophical truths concerning humanity and what is necessary for us to achieve happiness.