Thursday, July 21, 2016

How Not to Choose an Occupation

Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man has many interesting stories into which you can sink your teeth and rile your imagination. The Long Rain strands astronauts on Venus and the persistent rains that drove you mad.  The Veldt has murderous children kill their parents with virtual reality lions, and The Rocket Man, which prompted the desire in me to become an astronaut traveling the solar system.

The imagery did it to this ten year old who loved to daydream. In the story, dad read stereo-newspapers, the family rushed to town in a helicopter, and they had mechanical book readers. (He wrote it in 1951.) As I read I could feel the astronaut’s compulsion to go back into space. It made me feel as if that would be my career path. I craved an occupation that didn’t exist.

There was a cautionary line, “Don't ever be a Rocket Man… Don't let it get hold of you.” Nevertheless, the story created a yearning in me. Even when the astronaut’s ship fell into the sun, I felt that Rocket Man was the job for me.

One day I discovered that it just doesn’t happen as the story portrays. There are no Martian sunflowers. Rocket men just don’t get into spacecraft and return three months later. Alas, my dream fell to pieces.
What remained was my love of science fiction.


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