Sunday, January 31, 2016

"'Your Name?' Said the Police Car in a Metallic Whisper"

"The Pedestrian."
By Ray Bradbury (1920-2012).
First appearance: The Reporter, August 7, 1951.
First reprinted in F&SF, February 1952.
First anthologized in The Best Science-Fiction Stories: 1952 (1952) and first collected in The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953) and numerous times since (HERE).
Filmed for TV in 1989 with that guy from M*A*S*H (HERE).
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online HERE (original) and HERE (PDF reprint).
"A jaundiced view of the world of A. D. 2131"
When utopia arrives, you can be sure there'll be somebody who won't think it's so wonderful:
. . . what a rare, incredible thing; in a city of three million, there was only one police car left. Ever since a year ago, 2130, the election year, the force had been cut down from three cars to one. Crime was ebbing; there was no need now for the police, save for this one lone car wandering and wandering the empty streets.  . . .
Comment: There really isn't anything we can add to the countless tributes offered over the years about Ray Bradbury's limpid prose, each word fitting perfectly in its place, the reader's senses stimulated, the emotions continually engaged.
- Wikipedia has background on "The Pedestrian" HERE (WARNING: SPOILERS) and an extensive article about Bradbury HERE; the ISFDb (HERE) and FictionMags (HERE) have plenty of bibliographical info; and there's a tribute site HERE.
- Note: The date mentioned in the story was changed in subsequent editions to 2053.

The bottom line: "A turn or two I'll walk to still my beating mind."

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