Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury
I am fortunate enough to take a wonderful course that solely focused on Bradbury and his work, taught by his very own biographer. I’ve never read as many stories written by a single author before. Even so, I can safely say that he is one of the best writers I’ve ever read. “Kaleidoscope,” which appears in Bradbury’s remarkable short story collection, The Illustrated Man, is a story that literally sends you up into outer space. The name itself gives us an idea what this story is about. The bright colors and changing views, it is an interesting story but not one that is so funny to read. From the very beginning we know that these men are dead and everything that we are able to do is just to watch them are dyeing without much hope. This is a kind of deeply philosophical and introspective tale, which is the hallmark of Bradbury’s writing. Through a simple accident in space, a rocket full of astronauts explodes and its crew is strewn across the emptiness, falling until their oxygen runs out, or until they collide with meteors or the Moon, or the Earth. “Kaleidoscope” really is a plot-wise story. It begins after the ship has already exploded. Most of the story takes place from a vantage point close to Hollis. He is the main character and the captain of the ship, a man who has hidden his emotions for most of his life. He went into space because it helped him to avoid women and he clearly envies those men who have better luck with women. He tries to convince himself that there is no difference between him and them but he knows that it isn’t true, they have memories, and he has only dreams. So we can see what he sees as the Earth’s gravity is pulling him in. And soon Hollis is alone, alone with his thought. As these men hurtle toward their fate, feeling helpless in preventing their own deaths, they understandably bicker and find fault with each other. One of the men is the most calm about his death having lived a good life, however...
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