Close

Login

Close

Register

Close

Lost Password

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Classic Dungeons & Dragons at Dungeon Masters Guild
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

*Sigh* Yes, it’s truly sorry news to report the grandmaster of fantastic science fiction, Ray Bradbury, passed away at his home in Los Angeles last night. The renowned author was 91.

As I’m sure there will be plenty of retrospective looks at Mr. Bradbury’s body of work and career (at least 500 published books, produced plays and filmed screenplays), I just wanted to share some thoughts I have about Bradbury stories and novels.

For some reason I always felt an affinity for Ray Bradbury as he was born and raised in the town of Waukegan located in the suburban Chicago area. Having grown up in Chicago, and spending around thirty five years in the city, I always looked at Bradbury as a hometown author although I’m pretty sure he had moved along to California long before I ever picked up my first dogeared copy of The Martian Chronicles. Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and his collections of short stories soon followed. I’m sure it’s a silly notion to think of Bradbury as a Chicagoan, but I know his upbringing in that small suburban town had a great impact on how he wrote and even how he lived. I know Bradbury shared my common love of libraries and all things promoting making the written word available to everyone.

For myself, I always gravitated to Bradbury when it came to the so called “big three” of science fiction: Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein. Asimov came across as a bit too dry and his characters never seemed to come to life; Heinlein wrote characters nicely but many of his novels were overly convoluted and scattered in my opinion; Bradbury centered his tales on people and the hard science wasn’t present as the fantastical trappings were nothing more than a device to advance the sroty. I’ll be honest and say I’ve never been a big fan of “hard” science fiction and Ray Bradbury certainly didn’t fall into that category.

Ray Bradbury, to me, always wrote in a very Americana-ish way as he focused on both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America. As a kid reading SF and horror in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during a time of relative flux in the consciousness of America – the true Viet Nam experience was coming to light and sinking in, inflation was staggering the nation, the peace and love of the 60s was a thing of the past, and America was looked on around the world as a punch drunk giant about to crash to earth – Bradbury’s stories called out to me as not only harkening back to the American spirit which created our great nation but also a harbinger warning of what could come to pass if we forgot our roots of independence in a quest for an illusionary safety in conformity. Ray Bradbury was our Norman Rockwell of science fiction, with the ability to draw our gaze into a slightly skewed mirror of reality (or, in many cases, an alternate reality) to remind us that in the end it’s only people who matter and all else is simply window dressing.

One last thing, that might not be tackled much by the folks writing about Mr. Bradbury, is the impact he had on the medium of radio. As a fan of old time radio, I can tell you some of the best stories of SF and horror could be found coming from the mind of Bradbury throughout the 1950s. A great many of our readers aren’t old enough to remember when three or four televisions weren’t a fixture in someone’s home. Trust me, I’m not old enough to remember that either, but as a fan of great storytelling – regardless of the medium – I’ve listened to hundreds (maybe thousands) of radio shows from the past and when it comes to tales of the supernatural or far flung future many of the greatest were either penned by Bradbury or adapted from his stories on shows like Dimension X, X-Minus One, Ray Bradbury Theater, and many more! I’ll share one of my favorites here, Mars is Heaven which later became part of The Martian Chronicles, from Dimension X which aired on July 7th, 1950:

Download the show to take on the go right here.

In the end, I’m sure Ray Bradbury wasn’t much in the public consciousness over the past couple of decades and he wasn’t writing a whole lot of fiction but a true legend has passed. Hopefully, the outpouring of appreciation and affection for the master storyteller, that’s sure to come, will help to expose new readers to Bradbury’s work and bring a whole lot of joy to a generation who may not recognize the name.

8 Comments

  1. Funny you mentioned the tattoos, Greg. Whenever I run across anyone who’s heavily inked, the first thing that pops into my head is The Illustrated Man. 🙂

    Reply
  2. A fine tribute Jeff. I was also saddened to hear of the passing of another Grand Master. Ray was one of the first SF authors to thrill my boyhood imagination and I eagerly devoured his superlative short stories, each one promising to transport me to an exotic destination…..or discover something wicked just around the corner.

    The power of Ray’s prose lingers in everyday experience…..whether walking alone along a suburban street, observing the blue glow of television sets from many a window, seeing a tattooed person, or even stealing the guilty pleasure of a novel, in front of the hearth.

    You’ll live on in my fond memory, Mr Bradbury.

    Reply
  3. A very nice tribute to a true legend, Jeff. Well done.

    A glimpse into what a very fine individual Ray Bradbury was goes back to the 1950’s when the EC comic line was illustrating and publishing some of his stories without his knowledge or consent. Instead of pulling a ‘Harlan Ellison’ and having a tantrum, Ray just wrote to the editors at EC and asked that they notify him of what stories they were adapting, along with a complimentary copy of the comic book (remember, we’re talking .10 or .15 cents here!).

    Bradbury knew that EC was losing money on its science fiction titles and that they could not afford to pay him any royalties. However, by allowing his stories to be illustrated, he astutely understood that his writings would gain wider exposure, which they did (in addition to his radio body of work that you mention).

    A gentleman to the very end, Ray Bradbury will be dearly missed… but he will live on via his prose for current and (hopefully) future generations to discover and enjoy.

    Oh, if you get a chance, try to score some of those EC comics with a Bradbury story (originals can be expensive, but reprints are readily available on the cheap) as they really are quite a sight to behold. My favorite would probably be, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, an elegantly simple yet powerful story of a potential nuclear holocaust scenario. Positively brilliant.

    Reply
  4. There Will Come Soft Rains is an excellent story! It was actually produced for radio twice: Once on Escape and the other on Dimension X.

    Interesting you mentioned the old EC comics. I recommended a book to my brother called The Ten Cent Plague and much of it revolves around the panic surrounding comic books in the 1950s and Bill Gaines disastrous appearance before the Senate. We got to talking about the hard cover editions that used to be available which included reprints of a lot of the old EC titles and how we’d love to have them.

    Reply
    • The Russ Cochrane hard cover EC volumes (in slipcase, as sets) can be found on ebay on occasion, but the prices are rising. The covers are reprinted in color, though the stories themselves are in black-and-white (one can truly see the artist’s skill at hand), plus all the interesting background notes make for a fascinating read.

      They are simply great sets to own, if you can find them – if you’re coming to SDCC next month, I have seen various sets for sale there (but not very often).

      Reply
      • Yep, we’re covering SDCC so we’ll be there with bells on. Well Elliott will, I don’t do bells. 🙂

        Reply
        • Good news – come by and see me in the comic book dealers section, I should be at the Bunky Brothers booth most of the time. See you next month, and let’s see if we can dig up some EC’s for you!

          Reply
  5. Very well written my friend. Although I don’t remember the comics and I enjoyed his books, I always loved hearing his stories on old time radio (in which direction you pointed me a long time ago). He will be missed. I need to track down some of those comics.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Thanks for submitting your comment!