Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines


In the stories of Ray Bradbury, readers have journeyed beyond the boundaries set by their imaginations, and have reveled in fantastic realms created by "one of the world's outstanding storytellers" (Toronto Globe & Mail). Now this prolific writer spins an enchanting fable about a lost boy who makes the acquaintance of a long-forgotten, though very powerful, ancient god.

When Ahmed, the twelve-year-old son of a caravan leader, falls from his camel, he is lost in a vast ...

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Lane, Christopher 1998 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 64 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Hardcover ... in dust jacket, Fine/Fine Condition (Brand new book! ), Backroom. Read more Show Less

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1998 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New dust jacket 9.64 X 6.43 X 0.49 inches 64 pp; Excellent book.

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Chris Lane NY 1998 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket Book. 12mo-over 6?-7?" tall. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing).

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first edition, first printing, signed by Bradbury; 64 pp., Hardcover, NEW in a NEW dust jacket

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Lane, Chris (illustrator) New York, NY, U.S.A. 1998 Hard Cover 1st Edition, 1st Impression New in New jacket Signed by Author New. Signed by Bradbury on full title page and ... dated '12/13/98'. Illustrated by Chris Lane. Dust jacket covered with Brodart 'just-a-fold' 1.5 mil jacket. Read more Show Less

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In the stories of Ray Bradbury, readers have journeyed beyond the boundaries set by their imaginations, and have reveled in fantastic realms created by "one of the world's outstanding storytellers" (Toronto Globe & Mail). Now this prolific writer spins an enchanting fable about a lost boy who makes the acquaintance of a long-forgotten, though very powerful, ancient god.

When Ahmed, the twelve-year-old son of a caravan leader, falls from his camel, he is lost in a vast desert, and his situation looks ominous. Isolated and alone, the young boy begins to cry and his tears awaken the ancient god Gonn-Ben-Allah, Keeper of the Ghosts of the Lost Names, who lies beneath the sand.

Rising to full form for the first time in tens of thousands of years, the majestic Gonn tells his frightened savior that fate has brought them together. To comfort Ahmed, the god bestows the gift of flight upon the boy, and the pair sets off on an evening of spectacular adventures. Traveling through time and space, Gonn shows the fascinated Ahmed the wonders of the world-past and present-and its sorrows. Within each startling revelation, Ahmed finds wisdom-and learns to accept life for all it has to offer.

A wondrous fable for children of all ages, AHMED AND THE OBLIVION MACHINES is yet another glorious testament to the remarkable gifts of master storyteller Ray Bradbury.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
While 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.
— bn.com

Bradbury is an authentic original.
Library Journal
In this fable, a young Arab boy, lost in the desert, receives the gift of flight from the ancient god Gonn-Ben-Allah, Keeper of the Ghosts of Lost Names.
Time Magazine
An authentic original.
Asimov's Science Fiction
Raise the allowances of your sons and daughters so that they may rush out and purchase [this] imagination-stimulating [book].
Kirkus Reviews
From Bradbury (for adults, Quicker Than the Eye, 1996, etc.), a fantasy with moments of brilliance swamped by mystical befuddlement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380977048
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.64 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Ray Bradbury

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Ray Bradbury is the author of more than thirty books. Among his best known works are The Martian Chronicles, Farenheit 454, The Illustrated Man, and Someting Wicked This Way Comes. He has written for the theater and cinema—including the screenplay for John Huston's classic adaptation of Moby Dick—and adapted sixty-five of his stories for televisions's Ray Bradbury Theater and won an Emmy for his teleplay of the Halloween Tree. In 1964, Mr. Bradbury was creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the New York World's Fair, and in 1982 he created the interior metaphors for Space Ship Earth at Disney World's Epcot Center. Mr. Bradbury lives with his wife in Los Angeles, California, and is currently working on a new novel entitled From the Dust Returned.


Ray Bradbury is one of those rare individuals whose writing has changed the way people think. His more than 500 published works -- short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television scripts, and verse -- exemplify the American imagination at its most creative.

Once read, his words are never forgotten. His best-known and most beloved books -- The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes -- are masterworks that readers carry with them over a lifetime. His timeless, constant appeal to audiences young and old has proven him to be one of the truly classic authors of the 20th Century -- and the 21st.

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in several Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In recognition of his stature in the world of literature and the impact he has had on so many for so many years, Bradbury was awarded the National Book Foundation's 2000 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the National Medal of Arts in 2004.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview with Bradbury, he shared some fascinating facts with us:

"I spent three years standing on a street corner, selling newspapers, making ten dollars a week. I did that job every day for three hours and the rest of the time I wrote because I was in love with writing. The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love."

"I have been inspired by libraries and the magic they contain and the people that they represent."

"I hate all politics. I don't like either political party. One should not belong to them -- one should be an individual, standing in the middle. Anyone that belongs to a party stops thinking."

Read More Show Less
    1. Also Known As:
      Leonard Douglas, William Elliott, Douglas Spaulding, Leonard Spaulding
      Ray Bradbury
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 22, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waukegan, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was the night following the day when the seagull was seen over the desert that Ahmed, the son of Ahmed, fell from his camel and was lost as the caravan moved on into the dusk.

The gull had flown over at noon, coming from somewhere, going nowhere, circling back toward some invisible land that, they said, was rich with grass and water and had known nothing but water and grass for nine thousand years.

Looking up, Ahmed said:

"What does that bird seek? Here is no water and no grass, so where does it go?"

His father had answered:

"It was lost but now found again, returns to the sea from whence it came."

The gull circled a final time, crying.

"Oh," whispered Ahmed. "Shall we fly one day?"

"In another year," said his father, "but no one knows its name. Come. You must walk before you ride and ride before you fly. In the night, will your camel grow wings?"

And it was during that night that Ahmed stared at the sky and counted the stars until be was dizzy with counting. Then, drunk with light, he swayed as he inhaled the night wind. Crazed with delight at all that he saw in the heavens, he toppled and fell and was buried in the cooling sands. So, unseen by his father or the caravan of marching beasts, he was left to die among the dunes in the hours after midnight.

When Ahmed swam up through the sands, there were only the hoofprints of the great camels sifting away down the wind, at last gone, whispering.

I die, thought Ahmed. For what am I punished? Being only twelve, I do not recall any terrible crimes I committed. In another life, was I evil, a devil unseen and now discovered?

Itwas then that his foot scraped something beneath the shifting sands.

He hesitated, then fell to his knees to plunge his hands deep, as if searching for hidden silver or buried gold.

Something more than treasure rose to view as he swept the sand to let the night wind blow it away.

A strange face stared up at him, a bas-relief in bronze, the face of a nameless man or a buried myth, immense, grimacing underfoot, magnificent and serene.

"Oh, ancient god, whatever your name," whispered Ahmed. "Help this lost son of a good father, this evil boy who meant no harm but slept in school, ran errands slowly, did not pray from his heart, ignored his mother, and did not hold his family in great esteem. For all this I know I must suffer. But 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?"

The bronze bas-relief face of the old god glared up at him as the sand hissed over its empty mouth.

Ahmed said, "What prayers must I offer, what sacrifice must I give, so that you, old one, may warm your eyes to see, your ears to hear, your mouth to speak?"

The ancient god said only night and time and wind in syllables that Ahmed understood not.

And so he wept.

Just as all men do not laugh or all women move alike, so all boys do not weep alike. It is a language that the ancient gods know. For the tears that fall come from the soul out of the eyes unto the earth.

And the tears of Ahmed rained upon the bronze bas-relief face of the ancient spirit and rinsed its shut lids so they trembled.

Ahmed did not see, but continued weeping, and his small rain touched the half-seen ears of the buried god and they opened to hear the night and the wind and the weeping, and the ears-moved!

But Ahmed did not see and his last tears watered the mouth of the god, to anoint the bronze tongue.

So at last the entire face was washed and shook to let bark a laugh so sharp that Ahmed, shocked, flailed back and cried:


"Indeed, what?" said the gaped mouth of the god.

"Who are you?" cried Ahmed.

"Company in the desert night, friend to silence, companion to dusk, inheritor of the dawn," said the cold mouth. But the eyes were friendly, seeing Ahmed so young and afraid.

"Boy, your name?"

"Ahmed of the caravans."

"And I? Shall I tell you my life?" asked the bronze face gazing up from the moonlit sands.

"Oh, do!"

"I am Gonn-Ben-Allah. Conn the Magnificent. Keeper of the Ghosts of the lost names!"

"Can names be ghosts and lost?" Ahmed wiped his eyes to bend closer. "Great Conn, how long were you buried here?"

"Hark," whispered the bronze mouth. I have been to my own funeral ten thousand times your days."

I cannot count that far."

"Nor should you," answered Gonn-Ben-Allab. "For I am found. Your tears move my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my mouth to speak long before the Sack of Rome or Caesar's death, back to the caves and the lions and the lack of fire. List! Would you save yet more of me and all of you?"

I would!"

"Then no more tears! No more cries! With your robes, sweep off the dunes from the pavements of my limbs. Rouse Conn the Great to the stars. My funeral bones bring forth, and clothe them with your breath so that long before dawn, great Gonn will be reborn from your sighs and shouts and prayers! Begin!"

And Ahmed rose and sighed and prayed and shouted with joy and used his robes as broom to sweep and quicken this newfound friend of such a size the stars, seeing him, danced in their pivots and shivered in their burning gyres.

And what Ahmed's breath did not move, then his bare feet kicked away in the wind until the great bronze torso burst free. And then the snaking arms, the blunt fists, legs, and incredible feet, so that the naked god was unclothed of ancient dunes and lay under the burning gazes of Aldebaran, Orion, and Alpha Centauri. Starlight finished the revelation, even as Ahmed's breath, a fount, went dry.

A am!" cried Gonn-Ben-Allah.

And he lay there, three men wide and two dozen tall, his torso a monument, his arms obelisks, his legs cenotaphs, his face a noble halfSphinx, part sun god Ra, Arabian wits in fiery...

Ahmed and The Oblivion Machine. Copyright © by Ray Bradbury. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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