The Long Rain by Ray Bradbury

This post is published in conjunction with the R.I.P. VIII Challenge (R.I.P. = “Readers Imbibing Peril)

“Too much of anything – even a good thing – is not necessarily a good thing.” (I forget where I heard or read that – maybe in many places.)

Water is essential to life. All of the searches by astronomers for exosolar planets that might harbor life focus on the “Goldilocks Zone” where a planet’s proximity to the sun – and thus its temperature – make water in its liquid form a possibility. In spite of that, we have been reminded even just this week in the national news of flooding in the Boulder, Colorado area, that too much water can be a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed.

(From USA Today: Some of the destruction in the Boulder area.)

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Too much water is the predicament facing the four characters in Ray Bradbury’s short story, The Long Rain. They’ve crash landed on the planet Venus which, in this story anyway, has already been colonized to some degree by Earthmen. The problem with Venus, though, is that it never stops raining there. The entire human colonization consists of some 120 “sun domes,” where an artificial – and dry! – environment is maintained. The challenge for our crash landed crew: can they find their way to one of the sun domes before the rain drives them crazy. Plagued by the inability to sleep or rest, limited rations, a compass rendered unreliable by an electrical storm, and almost crushing despair, their survival seems an unlikely proposition.

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I don’t think the story is available anywhere on line (not that I could find, anyway), but any used book store worth its salt probably has several copies in stock of Bradbury’s acclaimed collection, “The Illustrated Man,” which contains The Long Rain. I have been working my way through my copy of The Illustrated Man for awhile now. There was also a 1969 movie adaptation which featured several of the stories in the collection, including this one. Reviews are mixed regarding the merit of this film, however. It also features the story, The Veldt, from this collection, which was part of my 2013 short story reading project. My post about that story is here if you’d like to take a look.

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The story was first published in a 1950 edition of Planet Stories magazine under a different title (“The Death Rain“). I couldn’t find the exact issue which featured this story, but pictured below is a cover of another one that also featured Bradbury.

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What is your favorite Bradbury story or novel? (Wouldn’t it have been great to grow up in an era rich with all these pulp magazines full of fantastic tales?)

(Below: A beaming Ray Bradbury…)

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