Title: From the Dust Returned
Author: Ray Bradbury
Twitter: Ray Bradbury considered the internet a waste of time
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishers’ Blurb: In an extraordinary flight of the imagination a half-century in the making, Ray Bradbury takes us to a most wondrous destination: into the heart of an Eternal Family.
They have lived for centuries in a house of legend and mystery in upper Illinois — and they are not like other midwesterners. Rarely encountered in daylight hours, their children are curious and wild; their old ones have survived since before the Sphinx first sank its paws deep in Egyptian sands. And some sleep in beds with lids.
Now the house is being readied in anticipation of the gala homecoming that will gather together the farflung branches of this odd and remarkable family. In the past-midnight stillness can be detected the soft fluttering of Uncle Einars wings. From her realm of sleep, Cecy, the fairest and most special daughter, can feel the approach of many a welcome being — shapeshifter, telepath, somnambulist, vampire — as she flies high in the consciousness of bird and bat.
But in the midst of eager anticipation, a sense of doom pervades. For the world is changing. And death, no stranger, will always shadow this most singular family: Father, arisen from the Earth; Mother, who never sleeps but dreams; A Thousand Times Great Grandmére; Grandfather, who keeps the wildness of youth between his ears.
And the boy who, more than anyone, carries the burden of time on his shoulders: Timothy, the sad and different foundling son who must share it all, remember, and tell…and who, alone out of all of them, must one day age and wither and die.
From a very young age, I’ve loved Ray Bradbury’s stories. In a time when I read indiscriminately, I remember Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and, The Illustrated Man. Even now they’re floating around my stacks waiting their turn for a re-read.
Bradbury is hard for me to review because his work is almost too liminal to be reviewed. The stories prey on me at a different level than most books. I can’t describe what it is to read him and be swept into his liminal space.
“… I had been having trouble with Weird Tales all along because they complained that my stories were not about traditional ghosts. They wanted graveyards, late nights, strange walkers, and amazing murders.
“I simple couldn’t do that; I tried again and again but along the way my stories turned into tales of men who discovered the skeleton inside themselves and were terrified of that skeleton. Or stories about jars full off strange unguessed creatures.”
The Eternal Family in From the Dust Returned is preparing for the gala homecoming of family around the world. The House has always been there, high on the hill, waiting for this.
There’s great excitement, especially for Timothy, the only human in the family. Left as a baby on the doorstep of the House, he only knows this family and loves them dearly. As they love him, and turn to him to be historian, to write things down and remember what happened.
Members of the family arrive to the great delight of each other. Then, one who finds himself unwelcome does the most horrific thing which can be done to a family such as this.
“The Family was strange, perhaps outré, in some degree rococo, but not a scourge …”
John the Unjust arrives. His introduction implies he was once known as Vlad the Impaler. He finds “…there was no room for his decayed persona and his dreadful past.”
And so, in a fit if pique, John the Unjust arrives at the police station to report on the goings on at the House. Torches and pitchforks are recruited and the Family flees as best it can while this home to a loving family is burned to the ground.
Timothy survives. He goes to a museum with A Thousand Times Grandmère in his arms and makes a deal. Grandmère, revealed to be Nef, mother of Nerfititi must have a new home and Timothy must be allowed to visit whenever he wants. The curator, Alcott, is most understanding and impressed by this boy, and Nef. A deal is struck and a new home welcomes her. Of course, Ray Bradbury, tells it more eloquently and makes it seem like the most logical thing of all.
Such is the magic of good tales, and Ray Bradbury was a master.