Word association: Say “Halloween,” and I think,”Ray Bradbury.”
In a 1993 piece for TV Guide, Bradbury described the deepest experience of his favorite holiday as “tasting darkness, but thrilled by the encounter because we are alive to savor it. It is somewhat similar to leaving the dentist’s after a tooth pull and being unable to keep our tongue out of the deep pit from which the tooth vanished. We taste blood, and a small bit of our mortality.”
Bradbury’s knack for that stuff that makes your neck hair prickle goes beyond Halloween itself, of course, and he wields it in his science fiction and stories of just-beyond-the-everyday, as well. So as October comes to a close, here are ten Bradbury works (two books and eight short stories, all of which are anthologized and easy to find) that perfectly fit the season’s lengthening nights.
The Halloween Tree – Born of an idea shared with cartooning legend Chuck Jones and eventually adapted into a 1993 animated television special starring Leonard Nimoy, this novella explores the roots of Halloween in a time-and-globe-spanning adventure that’s both fun and still tattooed with Bradbury’s signature shadow.
Something Wicked This Way Comes – “…one strange wild dark long year, Halloween came early.” Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to Green Town, Illinois.
“The Small Assassin” – From Bradbury’s first book, Dark Carnival, this classic puts a macabre twist on what’s should be one of life’s greatest joys.
“Marionettes, Inc.” – One of several Bradbury stories centered on the construction of lifelike robots … and its unintended consequences.
“Come Into My Cellar” – A terrific, pulp-comic-style tale mixing suspense and science fiction and silent menace.
“Banshee” – Inspired by Bradbury’s time in Ireland, and perfect for chilly, windy night reading.
“The Veldt” – Bradbury’s peek at virtual reality, offered in September 1950. Stick to your guns when it comes to video game time limits.
“Fever Dream” – Read this one, then try to push it from memory when flu season comes around.
“The Thing at the Top of the Stairs” – Think about that place that scared you when you were a kid, and when you grew out of that fear. Be afraid again.
“The October Game” – Possibly the darkest Bradbury story ever, and definitely best read when you’re all alone.
Happy Halloween, Ray Bradbury – and thanks for the shivers.