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Charles Underhill is a widower who will do anything to protect his young son Jim from the horrors of the playground--a playground which he and the boy pass by daily and the tumult of which, the activity, brings back to Charles the anguish of his own childhood. The playground, like childhood itself, is a nightmare of torment and vulnerability; Charles fears his sensitive son will be destroyed there just as he almost was so many years ago. Underhill's sister Carol, who has moved in to help raise the young boy after his mother passed away, feels differently. The playground, she believes, is preparation for life, Jim will survive the experience she feels, and he will be the better for it and more equipped to deal with the rigor and obligation of adult existence. Underhill is caught between his own fear and his sister's invocation of reason and feels paralyzed. A mysterious boy calls out to him from the playground, and seems to know all too well why Underhill is there and what the source of his agony really is. A mysterious Manager also lurks to whom the strange boy directs Underhill. An agreement can be made perhaps--this is what the boy tells Underhill. Perhaps Jim can be spared the playground, but of course, a substitute must be found. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ray Bradbury was a rabid and devoted science fiction fan from his early adolescence and from his early years of the Los Angeles Fiction Society. He sold his first story (a collaboration with Henry Haase) to Future Science Fiction when he was only nineteen years old and by the end of the 1940s was one of the most admired science fiction writers. The irony or paradox of Bradbury's career was that it was, at least in his mind, an essential failure. Bradbury's poetic, impressionistic, surreal, and decidedly non-rational stories were deemed unsuitable by John W. Campbell's Astounding science fiction magazine, and virtually all of his early work went to second and third level magazines for publication. In the postwar years, Bradbury's short stories found home in the so-called mainstream magazines; Mademoiselle, Charm, Redbook, Esquire, and the like, and he became the first science fiction writer to achieve some significant literary recognition through publication in Martha Foley's Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Prize volumes. Bradbury's first "novel"--actually a collection of related short stories compiled from work he had published in Planet, Future, and Thrilling Wonder Stories--was published by Doubleday in 1950 and has never been out of print since. It was the basis for both a television feature and a theatrical film. The collections which followed, “The Illustrated Man” and “A Medicine for Melancholy” among others, were also successful, as was Bradbury's early novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes (also the basis for a Disney film produced in the 1980s). Bradbury collaborated with John Huston in the early 1950s on a film treatment of Moby Dick, and many of his short stories have been the basis for television and theatrical films, notably the feature-length The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit.