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S is for Space

Saturday, April 25th, 2009 | Posted by Soyka

d40cbf3c-2d61-11de-8710-00144feabdc0Courtesy of Locus comes this link to James Lovegrove’s Review of the cover — not the book itself — of PS Publishing’s reissue complete with original artwork (hence the review) of Ray Bradbury’s 1966 short story collection S is for Space, a sequel of sort to R is for Rocket, which also featured a cover by Joe Mugnaini. Lovegrove says that a first edition copy is a rare find. It just so happens that I have one. My parents weren’t book people, but my neighbors across the street were. Mr. Heinholdt worked for The New York Herald (for you youngsters out there, that was a fairly reputable newspaper in its day) and Mrs. Heinholdt (further note for you youngsters: in those days, kids had no idea that adults had first names) worked at this marvelous used book store of cavernous dimensions infused with the smell of old paper stored for way too long where for hours I’d thumb through poorly filed carboard boxes of Astounding magazines from the 1940s  stuffed in tight spaces beneath groaning bookshelves. Knowing of my enthusiasm for Bradbury and science fiction, for Christmas of 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Heinholdt gave me a hardcover of S is for Space. I thought it was the first hardcover of a “real adult” book of literature  I was ever to own.

But it would seem my memory is faulty. It wasn’t a “real  adult” book, after all. Lovegrove notes that the book was aimed at what today is called the young adult market.  And, sure enough, there are cover flap blurbs from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and a notation that the book is recommended in the H.W. Wilson Standard Catalog for High School Libraries.

Sigh. Another childhood illusion shattered.  Funny thing is, I was flipping through the stories, and for the most part they strike me as stronger — as well they should, this is, after all, Bradbury in his prime — than his latest We’ll Always Have Paris that I recently reviewed. Even from my adult perspective.

I don’t know if I’d assign Bradbury to a high school audience, these days. I don’t think they’d get it. Too many anachronisms. Can the iPod and Facebook generation relate much to boys who thrill to the night carnival?

Oh, in case you were going to ask, no, my copy is not for sale, whatever it may be worth as a first edition in very good condition. Some things you just can’t put a price on.

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