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Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines
Published: Aug 15, 1998
The Barnes & Noble ReviewWhile peering at the stars one cool night in the desert, young Ahmed falls off his camel and becomes separated from his father's caravan. Certain he will die before he has even had an opportunity to live, Ahmed is reduced to tears. The sound of Ahmed's crying, and the wetness of the tears themselves, awaken a sleeping giant a slumbering god that rises from the desert sand and soars into the night's sky. The newly resurrected and jubilant god's name is Gonn-Ben-Allah. Gonn is touched by young Ahmed's dilemma but pleads for the boy to escape his past and what is left behind; live for the future, he says, for living in this manner is the only way to improve one's present and to achieve one's dreams. Gonn and Ahmed then embark on a wondrous journey through time and space. During this journey, Gonn teaches Ahmed many of life's important lessons, lessons of which adults not only young boys and girls need constant reminding. Gonn teaches Ahmed that there is no failure in trying. The only failure, Gonn explains, is to never try; only never trying will ensure the death of a dream. This despicable human act is what damages Gonn; it is why he has been killed and buried countless times before. At one point, Ahmed and Gonn witness a sleeping man, a metaphoric statement of passivity, a willingness to pass by opportunity, to allow what is to be without any attempt to improve or influence the situation. It is upon witnessing such an act that Gonn begins to shrivel and die. Has Ahmed learned Gonn's teachings well enough to save his giant friend from thishorriblefate? Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines is a very short but very delightful fable. Bradbury reminds us once again that dreaming is not only for children but for anyone who wishes to improve. This soon-to-be-classic tale, which is filled with illustrations from the skilled Chris Lane, is a wonderful gift for children, both young and old. Its message is valuable, and its story is enjoyable and enriching.