All Summer in a Day | Ray Bradbury #USAshortstory

“Ready ?”
“Now ?”
“Do the scientists really know? Will it happen today, will it ?”

First published on the 1st March 1954, Ray Bradbury’s short story came to my attention today thanks to a chat on our local ABC radio morning show. One of the presenters remembered a story she read as a child about a planet where it rained ALL the time. It didn’t take long for people to text in with the details. It was a Ray Bradbury short story called All Summer in a Day.

It turns out that lots of people had been thinking about this story lately.

The east coast of Australia has endured several weeks of non-stop rain. Most of the time, it has been regular steady, persistent rainfall, but sometimes it turned into torrential downpours, dumping hundreds of mls of rain in short periods of time. Homes, bridges and whole towns have flooded, many suffering record breaking flood levels.

For the rest of us, it is has been an unending, uninspiring scene of grey skies, dampness and leaks…and frightening news updates. Reading All Summer in a Day during this time felt ominous and portentous.

It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands.

Bradbury wrote something like 600 short stories during his writing career, which is a pretty impressive achievement.

Written in 1954, Bradbury’s story reflects the poltics of his time. The Cold War and the space race between the US and USSR were predominant narratives of every day life. Fear of a nuclear war was very real as our polticians played at brinkmanship. The desire to be the first into space was a matter of ego for many.

this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

Times have changed.

Most of our Cold War fears dissolved along with the USSR in 1991, although recent events have reminded us that war and ego and pride are never far away in the minds of our leaders. However, All Summer in a Day resonated more strongly today as a climate story. A world where it could just rain and rain and rain, and then rain some more, feels like an undeniable reality all along the east coast of Australia at the moment. How such an environment can affect the inhabitants feels prescient rather fantastical. From Margot, who

was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost.

To the jungle itself that,

covered Venus, that grew and never stopped growing, tumultuously, even as you watched it. It was a nest of octopi, clustering up great arms of fleshlike weed, wavering, flowering in this brief spring. It was the color of rubber and ash, this jungle, from the many years without sun. It was the color of stones and white cheeses and ink, and it was the color of the moon.

It’s easy to see young Margot as a scientist, locked away for knowing too much, whilst the nay-sayers run rampant, uncaring until it’s too late. She is also the outsider, the intruder, the newbie, fresh with her ‘otherness’ and her different ways and experiences. It’s rather to sad to think that even on another planet, in a do-over futuristic civilisation, that the bullies could still reign supreme.

Yes, there is contrition and shame at the end, but it is too late.

she had come here only five years ago from Earth, and she remembered the sun and the way the sun was and the sky was when she was four in Ohio. And they, they had been on Venus all their lives, and they had been only two years old when last the sun came out and had long since forgotten the color and heat of it and the way it really was.
But Margot remembered.

Walking home today, for a few brief moments, the gusty winds pushed aside some clouds, and the sun came out.

It felt like a miracle! I stopped and turned my face up to the warmth. For those few fleeting moments a blissful surge of joy and well-being flooded my body. I knew exactly how the Venusian children felt.

The sun came out. It was the color of flaming bronze and it was very large. And the sky around it was a blazing blue tile color. And the jungle burned with sunlight as the children, released from their spell, rushed out, yelling into the springtime.

Title: All Summer in a Day
Author: Ray Bradbury
Published: 1st March 1954
Format: ePub
Pages: 4
This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

23 thoughts on “All Summer in a Day | Ray Bradbury #USAshortstory

  1. I love that you reviewed a Ray Bradbury story. Bradbury has a dreamy innocence to him. For a few years I would read of his whatever I could find. The Illustrated Man might be the perfect collection of short stories. I don’t read him now, too much of a good thing. But for a while in my life he was perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bill – I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this was my very first Ray Bradbury. I can see the appeal. Certainly his ‘dreamy innocence’ was a bit of a tonic for me today.


  2. hey, did you see that a contestant on Hard Quiz tonight had Ray Bradbury as her special subject? (I don’t watch it, but *mystified frown* The Spouse does, and I usually get to hear what the special subjects are while I’m loading the dishwasher. Tonight one of the other contestants had Britney Spears as his special subject.)
    *Pause*, checks spelling of Spears, removes one of the Ts.
    If Bradbury wrote that many short stories, they could have tripped her up on almost any of them, eh?


  3. I love Ray Bradbury! His writing is just lovely, and so ….poetic without being self-consciously so. It’s not “Here I Am Being a Poet.” Anyway, I read a whole lot of his short stories as a kid and loved them. At that time, I hadn’t read THIS story, but it had already made a big impression on me. There was a short film version made, which I saw on TV, and while I’m not sure it has held up, at the time it really stuck with me. I only read the story later on. And now my high school friend is married to the guy who played the main bully. Strange world. Anyway here’s the film in case you want to look:

    I’ve heard about the terrible flooding in Brisbane and all. I hope you’re all doing okay and that it clears up soon. The weather just won’t give you a break…


    1. I can certainly see why you (& many others) love Bradbury. Even with just one story I can see the pleasure that his writing can bring.

      We finally had a sunny day today. It has been lovely to open up everything and let lots of delicious fresh air blow through and clear the mustiness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bradbury was a master of the short story. I know I read a collection of his short stories when I was in college, and they were very impressive. Like “The Velt” which today we’d say he predicted virtual reality!


      1. Okay so… back in the 50s there was a TV game show hosted by Groucho Marx called “You Bet Your Life” and they had two contestants who had to answer questions to win prizes (I liked to watch the reruns). On one episode a guy comes on and says his name is Ray Bradbury. Groucho asks him what he did for a living and he said he was a writer. Groucho asks him what does he write and if he could give an example. So Ray Bradbury says Science Fiction and describes his story The Velt. When I saw that episode I had only recently read the collection of short stories that included that one, and I sat there gaping at the TV!!!


  5. Bradbury is the writer who made me realise that I love science-fiction, when I was a young reader (his stories and John Christopher’s novels). Until then, I had a very limited understanding of SF and this opened all sorts of doors for me. Sounds like you might be in a similar place now…


  6. Haha Brona, you are a month early I think. Aren’t Kaggsy and Simon doing 1954 for The Year Club in April? I am just starting to think about what I’ll read!

    I haven’t read Bradbury either, though I have rad Vonnegut (Lisa)! Anyhow, loved your relating this story to current political and climate times. Nice!


    1. When I realised it was a 1954 publication, I nearly held off, but I read it thanks to very specific weather conditions in NSW last week. So now I have another link for all the books I’ve already read from 1954. Turns out it was a very good reading year for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The 1954 Club
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