The good Ray Bradbury stories


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
I would like readers to compile here a list of the Ray Bradbury stories that they really like. I think many of us feel that Bradbury is an uneven writer; some of this stories, perhaps usually early ones, are favorites, while we don't care for some of his others. Hit or miss. (NB By "stories" I mean any of his fiction, including novels.)

Put another way, what would be in our ideal Bradbury collection, drawn from throughout his career? The book may be imagined as a very large one or even as having more than one volume. For convenience' sake, I will refer to this imaginary book (in one or more volumes) as The Essential Ray Bradbury, since I don't think a book of that title actually exists, but that gets across something of what I have in mind. But don't take "essential" too literally, since I want this to be inclusive of lots and lots of favorites.

I'm going to do the easy part first and assume there would be wide agreement that the entire contents of The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Fahrenheit 451 would belong in such a book. However, I don't see the familiar paperback edition of The October Country thus. Some individual stories would make the cut, for sure. But I personally could do without "The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse." Perhaps some commenters will contend for it.

And that's an object of this thread, to get discussion going about individual Bradbury stories too, because I think that when nominations get going, we could have some interesting differences of opinion.

So I'm suggesting two agenda items as this thread begins:

(a) Nominations taken from any of his books -- please specify which book (or one might want to urge inclusion of the entire book), and

(b) nominations of particular stories from The October Country. Sooner or later, though, I hope people will chime in with what they would keep from The Golden Apples of the Sun, A Medicine for Melancholy, etc.

I haven't mentioned Dandelion Wine because... I haven't read it yet!
Last edited:
Even his less typical tales can be worthwhile. For example, one of my favorites is "The Terrible Conflagration Up at the Place". A little exploration of some cultural quirks.
Lots of caveats: I'm not a big Bradbury guy. I haven't read much of him. I recall liking the novel, Fahrenheit 451, and the collection, The Martian Chronicles. I apparently didn't much care for I Sing the Body Electric and don't remember it. But, 12 years ago, I read The Vintage Bradbury which is, itself, supposed to be an "essential" collection and I thought it was pretty bad. According to my notes (wish I had them for everything I'd read), I would vote for:

"The Anthem Sprinters" (6/63 Playboy, first collected in The Machineries of Joy)
"The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" (apparently originally published in its first collection, 1959's A Medicine for Melancholy)

My notes aren't real clear but I don't think either are very much SF/F, ironically.

I think "Conflagration" may be similar to "Sprinters" - now that I think on it some more, I may ever so vaguely recall that from Electric.

On "Poker Chip", my notes basically say I was puzzled and intrigued by it and want to re-read it, but I couldn't say I liked it at that point.
"A Sound Of Thunder" from THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN

"Mars Is Heaven" (published in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES as "The Third Expedition" with minor revisions at the end)

"There Will Come Soft Rains" from THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES (actually I loved the whole book but these two stories have stuck with me over the decades and I'm hesitant to pump much into THE ESSENTIAL RAY BRADBURY though the publisher has given us the okay.)

FAHRENHEIT 451, of course.

Oh, what the heck, gimme that pump!: SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, of course.
Difficult for me to answer this because the only collection of his I've read relatively recently was "The October Country". I thought all the stories in it were fairly good but I particularly liked: "Skeleton", "The Jar", "The Wind" and "The Skythe".

I read "The Stories of Ray Bradbury Volume 2" along time ago but one story that particuarly stands out in my memory is "Frost and Fire". I need to re-read it really...
"The Dwarf" in The October Country (comments on this story over at the October's Obdurate thread, #83 -- I intend to read this collection this month and to post my comments on each story over there, if anyone's interested).
"The Next in Line," also from The October Country -- another impressive story. Comment #84 at October's Obdurate thread.
Ouch! Dale, you've set a really difficult one here, for those familiar with Bradbury. (This comes under the heading of Mission: Impossible's "Your mission, should you choose to accept it....":rolleyes:) I mean, the man has been a published writer for almost seven decades now, and for quite a while was incredibly prolific....

I'd like to make a selection, but it's going to take some time to put one together. However, I would argue that nearly all the stories in his first book, Dark Carnival (several of which later ended up in The October Country or various other collections, but not all) would be on my list; they aren't all gems, but they are all good, and often quite disturbing, bits of fantasy or suspense....
JD, do you share my perception (but maybe I have an ill-founded one) that Bradbury has written a lot of stories that are unlikeable, disappointing? That his stories were more enjoyable when he was writing for pulps rather than the slicks? Etc.

Whether this impression is a good one or not, I do have the sense that almost nobody is a particular fan of Bradbury's "later" writings (I'll leave that undefined). I even have the sense that many people who liked his classics never seriously tried a lot of the later stuff, that the very titles put them (me) off. So I'm hoping to hear from people who have ventured well beyond those first classic books. What, if anything, are we missing?

And I think it would be neat to have a database of story titles that Chronsfolk have tended to agree are good. Again, I take it that there would be very little or no debate about including The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and some (but not all?) of The October Country. I suspect Dandelion Wine, which I intend to read soon, would make the cut. But what about (say) A Medicine for Melancholy -- does anyone like all of the stories in that collection? And so on. I would be happy to see a discussion here that went on for many months. I'm sure it would lead me to a lot of good stories that I have never read, because often when I've been in the mood to read a Bradbury story, I've gone back and just reread one that I trust, shying away from things with titles like "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit." That just doesn't sound like something I would like.

But I could be wrong....
Actually, "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" is a delightful, warm, and whimsical tale which works both as a prose story and a play (he did it in both forms).

A Medicine for Melancholy is one I've not read for a long time, but I recall liking it as a whole. The prose in it, as I recall, is certainly from Bradbury's highest period. But I suppose I should revisit it before giving my current impressions, no?

I have read some of his later writings, and they vary. From the Dust Returned is uneven (to say the least), but even with the most recent portions of that "fix-up" novel, there is much that is prime Bradbury. I don't care for Achmed and the Oblivion Machine, but there are several good stories, as I recall, in The Toynbee Convector. I have never got around to One More for the Road, but have heard good things about some of those, as well. And then there is his verse, several pieces of which might fit a somewhat broadened description as "narrative poems"....

On the whole, I don't think his moving from the pulps to the slicks made the difference so much as his becoming rather embittered about certain things later in life. As a minor example, look at his non-fiction entry in the anthology October Dreams, which details why (at least for some time) Halloween, before then one of his favorite times of the year, became almost a nullity to him at best, a time he rejected at worst....
JD commented, "Actually, "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" is a delightful, warm, and whimsical tale which works both as a prose story and a play (he did it in both forms)."

Then it may be past time I overcame my prejudice based on the title and gave it a try...
Comment #88 at the October's Obdurate thread on Bradbury's "Skeleton."
A reading of "The Jar" is #91 at October's Obdurate thread. I wonder if people will let me get away with it.
And comment #95 at October's Obdurate thread would drop "The Lake" from the Good Bradbury list.
My experience of Bradbury is limited so far. So these stories i mention are from good-to great level.

"The Scythe", "Uncle Einar", "The Skeleton", The Emissary, "The Jar".

Similar threads