THE TOYNBEE CONVECTOR by Ray Bradbury

THE TOYNBEE CONVECTOR

KIRKUS REVIEW

Bradbury's first story sheaf since The Stories of Ray Bradbury (1980) finds him more lyrically Bradburyesque than ever, in 22 new fantasies. His plots here aren't plots but only points of departure for rhapsody. There are readers who admire Thomas Wolfe's song-passages more than his storytelling, and apparently hordes are willing to endure Bradbury's limp taletelling to enjoy the green-dyed spun sugar of his poetizing. To point out the best first is not easy when all is like a shelf of figurines in a Swiss schlock shop. The title tale is about an inventor who--inspired by H.G. Wells--built a time machine, went into the future, and came back with blueprints for a utopian society. Now he has lived 130 years, and that very day in the future to which he first journeyed is rearriving: the inventor will come face to face with his past self when he arrives from the past in the time machine. An intriguing beginning--followed by a dumb climax that weasels out of the confrontation. Instead of the inventor facing up to his deception, the author has him die. So the story is all premise, no conflict, and the inventor never comes to grips with his acts. And this happens over and over, with stories that set up a promising idea and then avoid meeting it head on. Among the most richly tiring is "West of October," which features Bradbury's hairpin logic at its most Peter Max-ish, midsummer-night's dreamish: "Cecy. She was the reason, the real reason, the central reason for any of the Family to come visit, and not only to visit but to circle her and stay. For she was as multitudinous as a pomegranate. Her talent was single but kaleidoscopic. She was all the senses of all the creatures in the world. She was all the motion picture houses and stage play theaters and all the art galleries of time. You could ask almost anything of her and she would gift you with it." Lyrical word-collage pasted around candy people: fantasy that just evaporates--and maybe best suited to a YA audience.
Pub Date: June 23rd, 1988
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1988




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