display | more...

"To the Chicago Abyss" is a short story by Ray Bradbury, originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1963.

The story, like many of Bradbury's is short, around ten pages. It details the adventures of an unnamed old man, living in a hastily-sketched dystopia sometime in the early-21st century. The man is chased by the secret police for the crime of mentioning the type of consumer goods available in the 20th Century, but finds shelter with a couple who spirit him away to the titular Chicago Abyss, where he will continue to travel around the remnants of North America, bringing the remembrance of what consumer goods are like to the populace.

The most notable aspect of the story to me was that it seemed to resemble a scene in another famous science fiction novel, which after a few moments of thought, I placed as Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury's (perhaps regrettably) most famous work. In fact, the counterpoint is close, and almost parody. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, the escapees from the venal, literature hating future society walk along the railroad tracks, trying to piece together the Book of Ecclesiastes. In this short story, the hero goes out along the rails to bring the memory of Butterfinger bars in their bright yellow wrapper.

The exact point of the story is perhaps hard to tell, but in some ways I read it as almost a note of apology to the mass culture that he savaged in Fahrenheit 451. Or perhaps he just thought it made an interesting story. In any case, like any Bradbury story, it provides something for the reader to think about, in a vividly illustrated manner.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.