From Bradbury (for adults, Quicker Than the Eye, 1996, etc.), a fantasy with moments of brilliance swamped by mystical befuddlement. Ahmed, a young boy, gets lost in a sand storm while trekking across the desert with his father’s caravan. He stumbles on a gigantic buried statue, which his tears awaken. The statue is an ancient god, Gonn-Ben-Allah, Keeper of the Ghost of Lost Names. Gonn-Ben-Allah takes Ahmed through space and time, tracing the history of human efforts to fly (an analogy for the ability to imagine and invent). Bradbury is at his best when he describes past flyers who tried and failed; pterosaurs are called “boney kites” and a balloon is described “as ripe as a peach.” There’s also an aviator, a collector of butterflies who sewed up “a thousand small bright wings”—a captivating image—that attempts flight. Ahmed takes in all that Gonn-Ben-Allah shows him, and when the god “dies,” Ahmed follows in the deity’s footsteps, becoming a flyer himself. The exotic setting is exhilarating, although Gonn’s ornate speech comes across as puffed-up posturing, often stalling the plot and sidelining the story’s purpose. Clearly labeled a fable, the tale has instruction built into most passages, but those passages are occasionally breathtaking.