Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
“Quicker Than the Eye” by Ray Bradbury
Card picked: Two of Clubs
From: Tales of the Impossible, edited by David Copperfield & Janet Berliner
Review: Ray Bradbury brings me the first story of this challenge to involve stage magic–well, sort of. In this tale, an unnamed narrator watches as a man, who could be his twin, is duped during female pickpocket act.
This is a darker than I’m used to from Bradbury. Sure, sure, there’s the dystopian Fahrenheit 451 and the quiet menace of Something Wicked This Way Comes, but I’m not used to brittleness from Ray Bradbury. Our narrator is positively livid over the notion of a group of men being made fools of during a magic act, especially since one of those men is his doppelganger.
On one level this is what our reaction to being tricked should be. When a magician, or in this case a stage pickpocket with nimble fingers, takes advantage of us, we should be incensed. Usually, we’re not. When watching a magic act, the audience willingly decides to go along with being lied to. Personally, I’m not a fan of the mentalists and street magicians that do not present themselves with the sort of theatricality that is a nod to their fiction. I’m a bit dense and I dislike being tricked. Despite that, I really do enjoy magic. (I’ve also come to realize that I’d be a terrible magician because I am a terrible liar.)
Our narrator not only takes the pickpocket’s shenanigans personally, but is offended by the audience’s reaction. His fellow spectators are amused by a pretty woman, the same woman who has been sawed in halves and vanished from a box, stealing wallets, watches, neckties, suspenders, shirts, and pants. Bradbury obviously sets up a war-of-the-sexes. The men in the audience have been secretly satisfied to have seen this woman halved and disappeared, but it’s their wives and girlfriends that laugh loudest while the thiefess makes buffoons of the men. It’s these issues that I’m not used to from Ray Bradbury.
About the Author: Karmically, I feel I’m still paying for my re-pick a couple weeks back. Two weeks in a row and I pick two of my favorite authors. Who’s left? Ray Bradbury is probably the most read speculative fiction author of time thus far, highly anthologized and oft taught in schools. With his introduction to the Ray Bradbury Theater TV show, he made me realize that authors weren’t just names on the spines of books; that they are people and maybe I could be one too. Now, if only I could come close to writing as beautifully as he did.