ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
2014 has come and gone. It was a year of many difficult stories. Even in our fiction, both literature and film, there were a lot of dystopias. So, in this first This Week's Must Read of 2015, we have some science fiction that takes a hopeful view of the future. Author Jason Sheehan explains his recommendation.
JASON SHEEHAN: I have an affection for zombies. I've stared down plagues and seen the end of the world brought about in any number of ways. But here I am, sitting on the cusp of a new year, knowing the evil and sadness that's passed and fully expecting more to come, and wondering ever happened to Ray Bradberry. Ray was the man, a grandfather of dystopias, sure. I mean, he was the guy who wrote "Fahrenheit 451." But he was also our loopy prophet, who could show you dinosaurs and time machines and spaceships and sea monsters and all the wonders of a future I'm still hoping will come true. He wrote a kind of science fiction we don't see much anymore - fun but not childish, optimistic but not schmaltzy. OK - sometimes schmaltzy. But, at the same time, he also had an enthusiasm for exploration. He wrote a lot of books, and 10 times as many short stories. But, of all his collections, "A Sound Of Thunder" is the one I want to carry with me on into this new year. In it are both sides of Ray, from Bradbury the destructor to that barefoot kid laying on his back in the summer grass and staring, entranced, up into the stars. He hunts dinosaurs in this book, and builds space stations. But, mostly, he sings about the possibility and the promise of tomorrow, because tomorrow was the future and the future was inarguably awesome. Listen to this, from his story "The End Of The Beginning." (Reading) Tonight, he thought, even if we fail, we'll send a second and a third ship. We'll just keep going until the big words like immortal and forever take on meaning. Man will be endless and infinite.
That's Ray at his crazy, hopeful best. And that music, rather than the crackle of fire or the moans of the undead, is what I want to hear more of now, as we all step forward into our own futures.
SIEGEL: The book is Ray Bradbury's "A Sound Of Thunder And Other Stories." It was recommended by Jason Sheehan. His latest novel is "Tales From The Radiation Age."