Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, December 7, 2018


Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines by Ray Bradbury (1998)

Last week I reviewed Richard Matheson's children's oriental fantasy Abu and the 7 Marvels.  This week it's time for another children's oriental fantasy -- similarly titled -- by Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury's story is simple.  Ahmed, the twelve-year-old son of a caravan leader, falls off his camel during a caravan and is left behind in the desert.  Buried in the sand, Ahmed fights his way to the top and discovers that he is now alone.  Below his feet is something hard.  Clearing the sand he finds the head of a large statue of some ancient god.  Realizing he is doomed, the young boy burst into tears and pleads to the inert statue:

'"Oh, ancient god, whatever your name...{H}elp this lost son of a good father, this evil boy who meant no harm but slept in school, ran errands slowly, did not pray fromm his heart, ignored his mother, and did not hold his family in great esteem.  For all this I know I must suffer.  Bur here in the midst of silence, at the desert's heart, where even the wind knows not my name?  Must I die so young?  Am I to be forgotten without having been?"

His tears fell on the statue, wakening it.  It is the ancient god Gonn-Ben-Allah, who recognizes in Ahmed as the one he had been waiting for, "the keeper of the skies, the inheritor of the dream, the one who flies without flying."

Gonn then gives Ahmed the gift of flight and the two soar off into the night through time and space, visiting ancient cities and modern marvels, all with their sorrows and hopes.

As is usual for Bradbury, the message is hope and living life to the fullest.  Typical Bradbury, full of wonderful words, childhood dreams, and a sentiment that is effective in small doses.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Bradbury's writing.  I just have a low threshold for saccharine, probably magnified by having read Matheson's book the week before.  The Matheson, published a few years later than this one, was a much better book IMHO.  If I hadn't read the Matheson, my react to Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines would certainly have been better.  Also, Bradbury's book was illustrated by Chris Lane while Matheson's was by William Stout.  No contest.

Recommended, especially for children and for Bradbury fans.  As I said, Bradbury is best taken in small doses.  Luckily, this is a small book.


  1. Jerry, I didn't know about this particular Bradbury book until now. It sounds like a delightful sf/fantasy story. I'm going to add it to my collection and, of course, read it too.

  2. Quintessential Bradbury! I'd not known of this, but I'm more than intrigued.