One Ray Bradbury story that has always stayed with me is “The Long Rain” from his book “The Illustrated Man.” In the early 20th century astronomers saw Venus as a planet obscured by thick clouds. Bradbury’s interpretation was obvious: It always rained on Venus.
“The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men's hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped.”
The only refuge from this horrible world was a sun dome. After a crash landing on Venus, an officer and his three men made the long journey in search for such a shelter. One by one, all of the officer’s men either succumbed to insanity or committed suicide. The officer tried in vain to urge them onward, to hold to their faith. When the last of his men pointed a gun at his head, the officer implored him to go on. But the man responded that he would rather die than face the despair of the rain.
Bradbury’s science about Venus might have been wrong, but I grew to understand the story had little to do with science. Faith was a vital component of Bradbury’s life, and it showed in his work. His stories were filled with references to Jesus and religion. As he recounted in an interview with John Blake of CNN, at the center of his religion was love. His favorite book in the Bible was the Gospel of John, because of its references to the love of Jesus.
I see Bradbury like the officer in “The Long Rain,” pleading with his readers to hold to their faith. Against that terrible backdrop of Venus, the officer did finally arrive at the sun dome shining with all its brilliance. It was warm, it was bright, and it was dry. Although the officer wasn’t able to bring any of his men into that dome, Bradbury was much more successful in his own life, and I’m one of those who benefited from his work. I’m thankful that Bradbury has encouraged me and so many others to keep the faith. Ray Bradbury died on June 5 at 91 years old.
How were you inspired by Ray Bradbury?
Bruce Meyer writes about the relationship between the physical universe and the pursuit of spirituality.