(D.R. Banat, Ray Douglas Bradbury, Leonard Douglas, William Elliott, Douglas Spaulding, Leonard Spaulding, Brett Sterling)
PERSONAL: Born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan IL; son of Leonard Spaulding and Esther (Moberg) Bradbury; married Marguerite Susan McClure, September 27, 1947 (died, 2003); children: Susan Marguerite, Ra-mona, Bettina, Alexandra. Education: Attended schools in Waukegan, IL, and Los Angeles, CA. Politics: Independent. Religion: Unitarian Universalist. Hobbies and other interests: Painting in oil and water colors, collecting Mexican artifacts.
ADDRESSES: Home—10265 Cheviot Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Agent—Don Congdon, 156 Fifth Ave., No. 625, New York, NY 10010. E-mail—Ray Bradbury@harpercollins.com.
CAREER: Newsboy in Los Angeles, CA, 1940–43; fulltime writer, 1943–.
MEMBER: Writers Guild of America, Screen Writers Guild, Science Fantasy Writers of America, Pacific Art Foundation.
AWARDS, HONORS: O. Henry Prize, 1947 and 1948; Benjamin Franklin Award, 1953–54, for "Sun and Shadow"; gold medal, Commonwealth Club of California, 1954, for Fahrenheit 451; National Institute of Arts and Letters award, 1954, for contribution to American literature; Junior Book Award, Boys' Clubs of America, 1956, for Switch on the Night; Golden Eagle Award, 1957, for screenwriting; Academy Award nomination for best short film, 1963, for Icarus Montgolfier Wright; Mrs. Ann Radcliffe Award, Count Dracula Society, 1965, 1971; Writers Guild Award, 1974; World Fantasy Award, 1977, for lifetime achievement; D.Litt., Whittier College, 1979, Woodbury University, 2005; Balrog Award, 1979, for best poet; Aviation and Space Writers Award, 1979, for television documentary; Gandalf Award, 1980; Body of Work Award, PEN, 1985; inducted into the University of Kansas Center for the Study of Science Fiction's Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, 1999; medal for "Distinguished Contribution to American Letters," National Book Foundation, 2000; Bram Stoker Award nominee in novel category, Horror Writers Association, 2001, for From the Dust Returned, and 2003, for One More for the Road; the play version of The Martian Chronicles won five Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards; Grand Master Nebula Award, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; star on Hollywood Walk of Fame; National Medal of the Arts, 2004; honorary degree, National University of Ireland, 2005.
The Martian Chronicles (also see below), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1950, revised edition published as The Silver Locusts, Hart-Davis (London, England), 1965, anniversary edition published as The Martian Chronicles: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
Fahrenheit 451 (novelette; also see below), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1953, Long Beach Public Library Foundation (Long Beach, CA), 2005.
Dandelion Wine (also see below), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1957, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (also see below), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1962, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
Death Is a Lonely Business, Knopf (New York, NY), 1985, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.
Quicker Than the Eye, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
Green Shadows, White Whale, Knopf (New York, NY), 1992, published with a new afterword by the author, Perennial (New York, NY), 2002.
From the Dust Returned: A Family Remembrance, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.
Let's All Kill Constance, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
Dark Carnival, Arkham (Sauk City, WI), 1947, revised edition, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1948, published as The October Country, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1955.
The Illustrated Man, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1951, revised edition, Hart-Davis (London, England), 1952, Chivers Press (Bath, England), 1999.
Fahrenheit 451 (contains "Fahrenheit 451" [also see below], "The Playground", and "And the Rock Cried Out"), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1953.
The Golden Apples of the Sun (also see below), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1953, fortieth anniversary edition with a new foreword by the author, G. K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 1997.
A Medicine for Melancholy (also see below), Double-day (Garden City, NY), 1959, revised edition published as The Day It Rained Forever (also see below), Hart-Davis (London, England), 1959.
The Ghoul Keepers, Pyramid (New York, NY), 1961.
The Small Assassin, Ace (New York, NY), 1962.
The Machineries of Joy, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1964.
The Vintage Bradbury, Vintage (New York, NY), 1965.
The Autumn People, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1965.
Tomorrow Midnight, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1966.
Twice Twenty-Two (contains The Golden Apples of the Sun and A Medicine for Melancholy), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1966.
I Sing the Body Electric!, Knopf (New York, NY), 1969.
(With Robert Bloch) Bloch and Bradbury: Ten Masterpieces of Science Fiction, Tower, 1969 (published as Fever Dreams and Other Fantasies, Sphere (London, England), 1970.
(With Robert Bloch) Whispers from Beyond, Peacock Press, 1972.
Selected Stories, Harrap (London, England), 1975.
Long after Midnight, Knopf (New York, NY), 1976.
The Best of Bradbury, Bantam (New York, NY), 1976.
To Sing Strange Songs, Wheaton, 1979.
The Stories of Ray Bradbury, Knopf (New York, NY), 1980.
Dinosaur Tales, Bantam (New York, NY), 1983.
A Memory of Murder, Dell (New York, NY), 1984.
The Toynbee Convector, Random House (New York, NY), 1988.
Quicker Than the Eye, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
Driving Blind, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
Ray Bradbury Collected Short Stories, illustrated by Robert Court, Peterson Publishing (North Mankato, MN), 2001.
One More for the Road: A New Short Story Collection, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
The Cat's Pajamas, Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
(Edited by Donn Albright) Match to Flame: The Fictional Paths of Fahrenheit 451, Gauntlet Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2006.
Switch on the Night, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1955, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
R Is for Rocket (story collection), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1962.
S Is for Space (story collection), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1966.
The Halloween Tree, Knopf (New York, NY), 1972, updated edition, compiled by Donn Albright, edited by Jon Eller, illustrated by Joe Mugnaini, Gauntlet Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2005.
The April Witch, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1987.
The Other Foot, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1987.
The Foghorn (also see below), Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1987.
The Veldt (also see below), Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1987.
Fever Dream, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
The Country, illustrated by Joe Mugnaini, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
The Meadow, produced in Hollywood at the Huntington Hartford Theatre, 1960.
Way in the Middle of the Air, produced in Hollywood at the Desilu Gower Studios, 1962.
The Anthem Sprinters, and Other Antics (play collection produced in Beverly Hills, CA), Dial (New York, NY), 1963.
The World of Ray Bradbury (three one-acts), produced in Los Angeles, CA, at the Coronet Theater, 1964, produced off- Broadway at Orpheum Theatre, 1965.
Leviathan 99 (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 1966, produced in Hollywood, 1972.
The New York, NYed Forever (one-act), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1966.
The Pedestrian (one-act), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1966.
Dandelion Wine (based on his novel of same title; music composed by Billy Goldenberg), produced at Lincoln Center's Forum Theatre, 1967.
Christus Apollo (music composed by Jerry Goldsmith), produced in Los Angeles at Royce Hall, University of California, 1969.
The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit and Other Plays (collection; The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit, produced in Los Angeles at the Coronet Theater, 1965; The Veldt [based on his story of same title], produced in London, 1980; includes To the Chicago Abyss), Bantam (New York, NY), 1972, published as The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit and Other Plays for Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond Tomorrow, Hart-Davis (London, England), 1973.
Madrigals for the Space Age (chorus and narration; music composed by Lalo Schifrin; performed in Los Angeles, 1976), Associated Music Publishers, 1972.
Pillar of Fire and Other Plays for Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond Tomorrow (Pillar of Fire, produced in Fullerton at the Little Theatre, California State College, 1973; The Foghorn [based on his story of same title], produced in New York, 1977; includes Kaleidoscope), Bantam (New York, NY), 1975.
That Ghost, That Bride of Time: Excerpts from a Play-in-Progress, Squires, 1976.
The Martian Chronicles (based on his novel of same title), produced in Los Angeles, 1977.
Fahrenheit 451 (musical, based on his story of same title), produced in Los Angeles, 1979.
A Device out of Time, Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1986.
Falling Upward (produced in Los Angeles, March, 1988), Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1988.
To the Chicago Abyss, Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1988.
The Day It Rained Forever (musical based on his story of the same title), Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1990.
On Stage: A Chrestomathy of His Plays, Primus (New York, NY), 1991.
It Came from Outer Space, Universal Pictures, 1953.
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (based on his story, "The Foghorn"), Warner Bros., 1953.
Moby Dick, Warner Bros., 1956.
(With George C. Johnson) Icarus Montgolfier Wright, Format Films, 1962.
(Author of narration and creative consultant) An American Journey, U.S. Government for United States Pavilion at New York World's Fair, 1964.
(Under pseudonym Douglas Spaulding, with Ed Weinberger) Picasso Summer, Warner Bros./Seven Arts, 1972.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (based on his novel of same title), Walt Disney, 1983.
Also author of television scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Jane Wyman's Fireside Theatre, Steve Canyon, Trouble Shooters, Twilight Zone, Alcoa Premiere, and Curiosity Shop series. Author of television scripts for Ray Bradbury Television Theatre, USA Cable Network, 1985–90.
Old Ahab's Friend, and Friend to Noah, Speaks His Piece: A Celebration, Roy A. Squires Press (Glen-dale, CA), 1971.
When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed: Celebrations for Almost Any Day in the Year (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1973.
That Son of Richard III: A Birth Announcement, Roy A. Squires Press (Glendale, CA), 1974.
Where Robot Mice and Robot Men Run 'Round in Robot Towns (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1977.
Twin Hieroglyphs That Swim the River Dust, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1978.
The Bike Repairman, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1978.
The Author Considers His Resources, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1979.
The Aqueduct, Roy A. Squires Press (Glendale, CA), 1979.
This Attic Where the Meadow Greens, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1979.
The Last Circus and The Electrocution, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1980.
The Ghosts of Forever (five poems, a story, and an essay), Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1980.
The Haunted Computer and the Android Pope (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1981.
The Complete Poems of Ray Bradbury (contains Where Robot Mice and Robot Men Run 'Round in Robot Towns, The Haunted Computer and the Android Pope, and When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1982.
The Love Affair (a short story and two poems), Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1983.
Forever and the Earth, limited edition, Croissant & Co. (Athens, OH), 1984.
Death Has Lost Its Charm for Me, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1987.
With Cat for Comforter, illustrated by Louise Reinoehl Max, Gibbs Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1997.
Dogs Think That Every Day Is Christmas, illustrated by Louise Reinoehl Max, Gibbs Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1997.
(With others) You Are Here: The Jerde Partnership International (architecture), Phaidon Press Limited (London, England), 1999.
I Live by the Invisible: New and Selected Poems, Salmon (Dublin, Ireland), 2002.
(Editor and contributor) Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow, Bantam (New York, NY), 1952.
(Editor and contributor) The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories, Bantam (New York, NY), 1956.
Sun and Shadow (short story), Quenian Press (Berkeley, CA), 1957.
(With Lewy Olfson) Teacher's Guide: Science Fiction, Bantam (New York, NY), 1968.
Zen and the Art of Writing, Capra Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1973.
(With Bruce Murray, Arthur C. Clarke, Walter Sullivan, and Carl Sagan) Mars and the Mind of Man, Harper (New York, NY), 1973.
The Mummies of Guanajuato, Abrams (New York, NY), 1978.
(Author of text) About Norman Corwin, Santa Susana Press (Northridge, CA), 1979.
Beyond 1984: Remembrance of Things Future, Targ (New York, NY), 1979.
(Author of text) Los Angeles, Skyline Press, 1984.
The Last Good Kiss: A Poem, Santa Susana Press (Glendale, CA), 1984.
(Author of text) Orange County, Skyline Press, 1985.
(Author of text) The Art of "Playboy," Alfred Van der Marck (New York, NY), 1985.
The Dragon, B. Munster (Round Top, NY), 1988.
The Fog Horn, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1988.
Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures, Joshua O'Dell (New York, NY), 1991.
The Smile, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1991.
Journey to Far Metaphor: Further Essays on Creativity, Writing, Literature, and the Arts, Joshua O'Dell (New York, NY), 1994.
A Chapbook for Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis, and Ministers, 2001.
Conversations with Ray Bradbury, edited by Steven L. Aggelis, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2004.
Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars (essays), Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
Work represented in more than seven hundred anthologies. Contributor of short stories and articles, sometimes under pseudonyms including Leonard Spaulding, to Playboy, Saturday Review, Weird Tales, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Omni, Life, and other publications.
ADAPTATIONS: Fahrenheit 451 was filmed by Universal in 1966 and adapted as an opera by Georgia Holof and David Mettere and produced in Fort Wayne, IN, 1988; The Illustrated Man was filmed by Warner Bros. in 1969; the story "The Screaming Woman" was filmed for television in 1972; the story "Murderer" was filmed for television by WGBH-TV (Boston, MA), 1976; The Martian Chronicles was filmed as a television mini-series in 1980. Bradbury Theatre presented adaptations of Bradbury's short stories on the USA Network from 1985 to 1992. Several of Bradbury's short stories have been adapted as comics and included in The Best of Ray Bradbury: The Graphic Novel, 2003. Many of Bradbury's works have also been adapted as sound recordings.
SIDELIGHTS: Ray Bradbury is one of the best-known writers of science fiction, thanks to his numerous short stories, screenplays, and classic books such as The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ironically, Bradbury does not identify himself as a science fiction writer and has proclaimed his aversion to portions of modern technology: he does not drive a car or own a computer. His fiction reflects this mindset, for unlike many of his colleagues, Bradbury deemphasizes gimmicky space hardware and gadgetry in favor of an exploration of the impact of scientific development on human lives. In general, Bradbury warns man against becoming too dependent on science and technology at the expense of moral and aesthetic concerns. Writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, George Edgar Slusser noted that "to Bradbury, science is the forbidden fruit, destroyer of Eden…. In like manner, Bradbury is a fantasist whose fantasies are oddly circumscribed: he writes less about strange things happening to people than about strange imaginings of the human mind. Corresponding, then, to an outer labyrinth of modern technological society is this inner one—fallen beings feeding in isolation on their hopeless dreams."
Bradbury's works have provided a foundation for much of the science fiction written in the twentieth century. James Sallis, in an article for the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, described, "Some artists have a presence so pervasive that we take them wholly for granted; they're the floor we walk on. Ray Bradbury, for instance." In spite of his reputation, Bradbury maintained in Writer, "I do not feel like a science fiction writer at all," stating that much of his work is too fantastic to be considered science fiction, which he felt had to be based on possibilities for the future. Regardless of how his work has been classified, whether in his prose, his children's stories, his poetry, his noir mysteries, or his plays, it is clear that his writings have had a profound affect on his audiences. Writer contributor Beatrice Cassina summed up what makes Bradbury's work stand out: "In his writing we meet people like us; people who are not all that involved with futuristic machines; human beings who cry, love and sometimes live in doubt. We read about people who are emotionally involved with their lives, and about places and times that everybody can, in some way, recognize and relate to."
Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920. "At age six he began reading comic strips," reported David Steinberg in the Albuquerque Journal. By the age of eight he was eagerly reading the popular pulp magazines of the time, such as Amazing Stories. Steinberg continued, "From there he moved on to reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and Warlord of Mars and the novels of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne." He started writing when he was twelve years old, and has been reported to have written a short story every week from then on. In 1934 the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles, California. Bradbury began to work seriously on his writing at that time, his efforts including attendance at a writing class taught by science fiction master Robert Heinlein. His first published story appeared in an amateur fan magazine in 1938. He continued to work hard on honing his writing craft, and by the 1940s he was publishing in the better magazines and receiving national recognition for his work, winning several important awards and being featured in major anthologies. His first short story collection, Dark Carnival, later published by its better-known title October Country, features eerie and fantastic short stories, including "The Homecoming," the first tale to introduce the Elliott family, who appear in his later fiction.
In 1950 Bradbury published The Martian Chronicles, a cycle of stories chronicling the Earth's colonization of, and eventual destruction of, the planet Mars. The portrayal of the Martians ranged from sympathetic to threatening, but the stories really focus on the Earthling colonists. The Martian Chronicles was lavishly praised by such literary standouts as Christopher Isherwood, Orville Prescott, and Angus Wilson, bringing its author a standing as a writer of highest merit. "The book owed much to the American tradition of frontier literature, and quickly consolidated Bradbury's reputation as one of science fiction's leading stylists," commented an essayist for St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers. The book continued to be published throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first; a 2000 edition was published with dates pushed back, so that the events take place in 2030 instead of 1999. "I did not change them for any other reason than to encourage (people) to go to Mars," he told Steven G. Reed of the Sarasota Herald Tribune. "I didn't want people to read the book and get discouraged, you see." In the years The Martian Chronicles has been in print, it has been made into a movie, a miniseries, a radio show, a stage play, and an interactive adventure game on CD-ROM. According to a contributor to the Newark, NJ, Star Ledger, on Bradbury's eighty-third birthday, the author made the following wish, "One night, 100 years from now, a youngster will stay up late reading The Martian Chronicles with a flashlight under his blanket—on the Red Planet."
The Illustrated Man, which appeared the following year, is another story cycle; in this volume, though, each story represents a tattoo that has come alive. The Martian setting of the previous book is revisited in a few of the tales, notably "The Fire Balloons," which probes the question of whether or not an alien life form can receive Christian grace. The amoral tendencies of children is the basis of "The Veldt" and "Zero Hour." In "Kaleidoscope," Bradbury dramatized the fate of a crew of astronauts whose spaceship has exploded, and who are drifting through space to slowly meet their deaths. Charles De Lint, reviewing a new edition of the collection published in 1997 for the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, commented that the stories are "still as vibrant and startling and telling" as they were when the book was published, containing "strong characters, fascinating ideas, crisp dialogue."
The novella Fahrenheit 451 is, along with The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury's most famous work. In this story, "firemen" are those who set forbidden books aflame, rather than those who put out fires. Guy Montag, the protagonist, is a fireman himself; however, he begins to question his work when he takes home one of the books he is supposed to have destroyed and reads it. Fahrenheit 451 is a somewhat simple tale, "as much an attack on mass culture as it is a satire of McCarthy-era censorship," remarked the essayist for St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers. The tale implies that the government-sanctioned illiteracy is the outgrowth of pandering to special interest groups in the mass media, as well as a result of the rise of television. A society of outcasts is the only bastion of great literature; its members dedicate themselves to memorizing the great books of the world. Many commentators note a disturbing similarity between Bradbury's fictional world and our real one. The repressive future world is so vividly depicted in this work that the novella has become as much a staple of political study as George Orwell's 1984. Fahrenheit 451 has become both a banned book and a book used in many high school classrooms to discuss the topic of censorship. In 2002 Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn used the book as the focus of a citywide reading campaign.
Fahrenheit 451 has an interesting history: the germ of the idea came to Bradbury when he was a teenager, watching a newsreel of Nazis performing a book burning in Berlin. The first draft, published as "The Fireman," introduces Montag for the first time, and was written in nine days on a typewriter that Bradbury rented in the library for ten cents per half hour. At the urging of a publisher, Bradbury expanded the novella into its current form. The title, Fahrenheit 451, refers to the temperature at which paper ignites. Robert A. Baker, in an article for the Syracuse, NY, Post-Standard, reported that Bradbury explained, "he called several places to get the answer before thinking of the fire department. He asked the fire chief, who left the phone briefly before returning to tell him '451 Fahrenheit.' 'I hope he wasn't lying to me,' Bradbury said." Reviewers of the anniversary edition made a point of acknowledging the book's continued relevance. "It has reminded readers over the past fifty years that books can be dangerous things," wrote a reviewer from Australia's Canberra Times.
After the publication of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury moved away from the science fiction genre with which he had become identified. He published other story collections during the 1950s containing a mix of fantasies, stories set in Mexico (a setting which had a lasting fascination for the author), crime stories, and small town tales. In A Medicine for Melancholy, Bradbury published his first stories concerning Irish life and character. This interest, sparked during a stay in Ireland in 1954, would be another ongoing concern in his work for years to come. He also continued publishing regularly in magazines, both inside the science fiction genre and in more mainstream publications.
Published in 1962, Something Wicked This Way Comes was Bradbury's first full-length novel, and another of his best-known works. This fantasy concerns a malevolent carnival that disrupts life in a small Midwestern town. The action occurs mostly at night and explores the darker parts of humanity. The supernatural powers within the carnival have the power to grant dreams, but also to steal away one's soul. "The merry-go-round, the Hall of Mirrors, the parade and other carnivalesque trappings become truly creepy under Bradbury's skillful pen," noted the writer for St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Bradbury's subject matter became more realistic, and his output slightly less prolific. His themes were frequently rather dark, concerning dysfunctional marriages, fear of aging and death, and more warnings on the dangers of technology. Such stories can be found in The Machineries of Joy and I Sing the Body Electric! The author also worked on nonfiction, plays, editing of anthologies, and writing children's stories. Many of his plays are adaptations of his short stories, and they have continued to appear on stage over the years and in many incarnations. Bradbury's love of theater began at an early age; he was cast for the first time in a musical when he was twelve years old. "His second love has always been theater," reported Ben P. Indick in Publishers Weekly. In 2003 Los Angeles theaters featured no less than four of Bradbury's plays.
Bradbury's children's books have featured elements of his science fiction writing; Switch on the Night tells of a boy who is afraid of the darkness until a girl named Dark shows him that there are many things to be experienced at night that can't be seen or heard during the day: the stars, the crickets, the croaking frogs. In 1993 Switch on the Night was published with new illustrations by Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon. Another of Bradbury's children's tales, Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines, tells the story of a young boy who is separated from his family in the desert and rescued by an "old god" who shows him the meaning of life.
In 1985 Bradbury published a long-awaited new novel, a noir mystery titled Death Is a Lonely Business. Based loosely on his early years as a writer in the pulp fiction market, it features a protagonist whose optimism works to save him from the strange deaths that are striking down his comrades. Characters introduced in this book are the tough cop Elmo Crumley and the hard-living Constance, both of whom appear in later mysteries; with these two, wrote John Coleman of London's Sunday Times, Bradbury has "created a memorable couple of tough, compassionate characters: the match for any Martian."
A Graveyard for Lunatics is another noir tale of a writer, working in Hollywood during the 1950s, who discovers a body, frozen in time, in the graveyard next to the studio that employs him. There are autobiographical threads in this story as well; Bradbury wrote for such popular early television shows as The Twilight Zone and the Alfred Hitchcock series, and his work in Hollywood included writing the award-winning screen adaptation of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. "Bradbury is at his best when he grants real people and actual events the quality of hallucinations," commented Stefan Kanfer in his Time review of A Graveyard for Lunatics. Sybil Steinberg, writing for Publishers Weekly, pointed out that "Bradbury toes the fine line between reality and illusion."
Using another of his screenwriting experiences, Bradbury developed the novel Green Shadows, White Whale around his work adapting Moby-Dick as a screenplay in Ireland. In the novel, the director John Huston has a large impact on everything that occurs—reviewers compared Huston in the novel to the white whale in Melville's original tale. Kanfer, again writing for Time, called the novel Bradbury's "most entertaining book in a distinguished fifty-year career." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted, "Bradbury's prose is as vibrant and distinctive as the landscape in which these delightful tales are set."
Several of Bardbury's short story collections were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Driving Blind features twenty-one new tales by the author. One More for the Road is a collection of short stories and novellas, most of them new to print. Several of Bradbury's earlier themes appear here as well: nostalgia for childhood, love, and time travel. Dorman T. Shindler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that Bradbury's writing has a "fluid, elegiac style that's impossible to copy." A Kirkus Reviews contributor considered the collection "slight, affecting, voluble, exuberant," and Roland Green, writing for Booklist, stated that "Bradbury is justly considered a master of the short story."
As Bradbury turned eighty-three, he selected one hundred of his stories to be collected in Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. "This will quite likely go down as grandmaster Bradbury's magnum opus," commented a critic for Kirkus Reviews. Bradbury's 2004 collection The Cat's Pajamas combines new stories with "lost" stories, written early in his career but never before published; "old or new, they are remarkably of a piece," Ray Olson noted in his Booklist review. Some critics felt that Bradbury's earlier unpublished stories were stronger than the collection's newer stories. According to Meg Jones in her review for Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, "Bradbury still writes great stories, but it's his older tales that shine in this collection." However, Jessie Milligan, also writing for the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, was unabashed in her praise: "This collection is a true gift from a powerful writing talent who has entertained Americans for almost sixty years."
With From the Dust Returned, Bradbury returns to the Elliot family of "The Homecoming." The Elliots live in a Victorian style castle; each of them has a supernatural ability that makes them something more or less than human. "Like the members of his Family, Bradbury's talents are immortal," praised Shindler, this time writing for the Denver Post. "The book reads like liquid poetry while telling the interconnected stories of a number of unusual … family members," Rachel Singer Gordon declared in her Library Journal review. Featured family members include Grand-Mere, a mummy who was once a pharoah's daughter; Uncle Einar, whose bat wings allow the younger family members to use him as a kite; Cecy, who enters people's minds and occasionally controls their actions; and Timothy, a human foundling who is recording the family history.
In 2003 Bradbury penned another mystery with a film noir flavor: Let's All Kill Constance. "When Bradbury writes stories set during Hollywood's heyday of the '40s and '50s, the result is a crackerjack tale full of sly wit and gentle insight," Shindler praised in his review of the book for the Austin American Statesman. In this tale, the screenwriter/detective who appeared in Death Is a Lonely Business and A Graveyard for Lunatics is asked for help by Constance Rattigan, an aging film star who seems to be the next prey of a killer. Constance visits the screenwriter in the middle of the night, producing an old address book of hers and an ancient phone book, both of which have old contacts and friends marked with red crucifixes. Once Constance confesses her fears, she vanishes into the night, leaving the screenwriter to try to pick up her trail—along which there are plenty of dead bodies. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book a "whirlwind of staccato dialogue, puns and references to old Hollywood," and added that "it's the author's exuberant voice more than the mystery itself that will have readers hooked." Meg Jones, in a review of the book for Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, concluded, "In Bradbury's breathless and unbeatable prose, the mystery slowly reveals itself like a flickering projector in a darkened theater."
Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars, a collection of 37 essays, was published in 2005. Some essays provide a background for the creation of many of Bradbury's classic stories, and in others the author provides "opinions galore on books, movies, [science fiction] and the people and places in his life," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. The same reviewer called the collection "uneven," stating that Bradbury sometimes resorts to "preening and ranting." However, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly claimed that in this collection, the author's "enthusiasm remains as contagious as ever."
Throughout his career, Bradbury has remained an energetic and insightful writer. Damon Knight observed in his In Search of Wonder: Critical Essays on Science Fiction: "His imagery is luminous and penetrating, continually lighting up familiar corners with unexpected words. He never lets an idea go until he has squeezed it dry, and never wastes one. As his talent expands, some of his stories become pointed social commentary; some are surprisingly effective religious tracts, disguised as science fiction; others still are nostalgic vignettes; but under it all is still Bradbury the poet of twentieth-century neurosis. Bradbury the isolated spark of consciousness, awake and alone at midnight; Bradbury the grown-up child who still remembers, still believes." As Shindler wrote in his Denver Post article, "After nearly six decades of professional publication, Ray Bradbury could lie back and relax…. Yet, instead of resting on his laurels, Bradbury is riding his third wind into a creative vortex, hurling out screenplays, stage adaptations, new stories," not to mention new novels. In addition, Bradbury has declared he has no intention of slowing down. He still writes every day. "It is not that I have to," he explained to Beatrice Cassina in Writer. "It is just that I feel I need to. Every day, every morning when I wake up. It is nice to be in the twenty-first century. It is like a new challenge. It is really a good and threatening new century to create for!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Adams, Anthony, Ray Bradbury, Harrap (London, England), 1975.
Clareson, Thomas D., editor, Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers, Volume 1, Bowling Green State University Press (Bowling Green, OH), 1976.
Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Broadening Views, 1968–1988, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 10, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 42, 1987.
Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2: American Novelists since World War II, 1978; Volume 8: Twentieth-Century American Science Fiction Writers, 1981.
Ketterer, David, New Worlds for Old: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Science Fiction, and American Literature, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1974.
Kirk, Russell, Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormity in Literature and Politics, Arlington House (New Rochelle, NY), 1969.
Knight, Damon, In Search of Wonder: Critical Essays on Science Fiction, 2nd edition, Advent, 1967.
Moskowitz, Sam, Seekers of Tomorrow: Masters of Modern Science Fiction, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1967, pp. 351-370.
Nolan, William F., The Ray Bradbury Companion, Gale (New York, NY), 1975.
Platt, Charles, Dream Makers: Science- Fiction and Fantasy Writers at Work, Ungar (New York, NY), 1987.
Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: The 1960s, Charles Scribners Sons (New York, NY), 2003.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Slusser, George Edgar, The Bradbury Chronicles, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1977.
Touponce, William F., Ray Bradbury and the Poetics of Reverie: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and the Reader, UMI Research Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1984.
Touponce, William F., Naming the Unnameable: Ray Bradbury and the Fantastic after Freud, Starmont House, 1997.
Weller, Sam, The Bradbury Chronicles, Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
Wollheim, Donald, The Universe Makers, Harper (New York, NY), 1971.
UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, volume 2, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.
World Literature Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Albuquerque Journal, November 29, 1998, David Steinberg, "Bradbury Keeps Pounding Both Keys and Pavement," p. F6.
Atlanta Journal- Constitution (Atlanta, GA), August 31, 2003, Gary A. Witte, interview with Bradbury, p. M1.
Austin American- Statesman, February 16, 2003, Dorman T. Shindler, "Bradbury Has Mystery Noir Down to a Science," p. K5.
Back Stage West, July 25, 2002, Dally Margolies, "Bradbury: Past, Present and Future at the Court Theatre," p. 27; April 3, 2003, Jenelle Riley, "What's Up with Ray Bradbury?," p. 4.
Book, September- October, 2003, Eric Wetzel, review of the Fiftieth anniversary hardcover of Fahrenheit 451, p. 34.
Booklist, October 1, 1998, Ray Olson, review of Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines, p. 312; August, 2001, Candace Smith, review of From the Dust Returned, p. 2049; April 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of One More for the Road, pp. 1312-1313; November 15, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of Let's All Kill Constance, p. 579; July, 2003, Olson, review of Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales, p. 1844; July, 2004, Ray Olson, review of The Cat's Pajamas, p. 1796.
Canberra Times, September 26, 2004, "Burning Bright after Fifty Years."
Coventry Evening Telegraph, May 31, 2003, Michael Wood, review of One More for the Road, p. 26.
Denver Post, October 7, 2001, Dorman T. Shindler, review of From the Dust Returned, p. FF-04; August 10, 2003, Shindler, "Fantasy Genius Bradbury Cranks 'em out at Eighty-three," p. EE-02.
Hollywood Reporter, May 10, 2005, "Angelica Huston, Author Ray Bradbury, and Merv Griffin Were Conferred Honorary Degrees," p. 16.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of From the Dust Returned, p. 1143; February 15, 2002, review of One More for the Road, p. 227; October 15, 2002, review of Let's All Kill Constance, p. 1491; June 15, 2003, review of Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales, p. 834; June 1, 2004, review of The Cat's Pajamas, pp. 504-505; June 1, 2005, review of Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars, p. 619.
Kliatt, September, 2002, Bette D. Ammon, review of From the Dust Returned, pp. 52-53.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, March 15, 1999, Luaine Lee, "A Conversation with Ray Bradbury," p. K5648; August 23, 2000, John Mark Eberhart, "Fifty Years of Fantasy," p. K151; January 8, 2003, Meg Jones, review of Let's All Kill Constance, p. K4394; July 8, 2004, Meg Jones, "Ray Bradbury's Older Work Still Purrs," p. K0626; August 12, 2004, Jessie Milligan, "Ray Bradbury's Cat's Pajamas Is Exactly That," p. K5315.
Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Michael Rogers, review of Death Is a Lonely Business, p. 118; September 15, 2001, Rachel Singer Gordon, review of From the Dust Returned, p. 108; December, 2002, Devon Thomas, review of Let's All Kill Constance, p. 174; August, 2003, A. Berger, review of Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales, p. 138; November 15, 2003, Michael Rogers, review of the fiftieth anniversary hardcover of Fahrenheit 451, p. 103; December 2004, Karen Sokol, review of The Cat's Pajamas, p. 174.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October, 1997, Charles De Lint, review of The Illustrated Man, p. 41; August, 2003, De Lint, review of They Have Not Seen the Stars: The Collected Poetry of Ray Bradbury, p. 34; March, 2005, James Sallis, review of Bradbury biographies, pp. 30-35.
New York Times, October 15, 2000, Emily-Greta Tabourin, review of Switch on the Night, p. L31.
New York Times Book Review, December 9, 2001, Mary Elizabeth Williams, review of From the Dust Returned, p. 28; January 26, 2003, Marilyn Stasio, review of Let's All Kill Constance, p. 20.
New York Times Magazine, November 5, 2000, Mary Roach, interview with Bradbury, p. 21.
Palm Beach Post, March 10, 2002, Scott Eyman, interview with Bradbury, p. J1.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), February 18, 2003, Karen Sandstrom, "Library Lover Bradbury Shares Burning Passion for Books," p. E1.
Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), October 6, 2004, Robert A. Baker, " Fahrenheit 451 Author Discusses Book," p. B1.
PR Newswire, April 22, 2003, "Ray Bradbury to Receive Honorary Degree from Woodbury University."
Publishers Weekly, May 11, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of A Graveyard for Lunatics, p. 249; April 6, 1992, review of Green Shadows, White Whale, p. 52; October 26, 1998, review of Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines, p. 49; March 19, 2001, review of A Chapbook for Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis, and Ministers, p. 81; August 27, 2001, review of From the Dust Returned, p. 60; October 22, 2001, Ben P. Indick, interview with Bradbury, p. 40; March 11, 2002, review of One More for the Road, p. 51; September, 2002, review of I Live by the Invisible: New and Selected Poems, p. 54; November 11, 2002, review of Let's All Kill Constance, p. 40; March 22, 2004, review of It Came from Outer Space, p. 68; June 28, 2004, review of The Cat's Pajamas, p. 31; June 6, 2005, review of Bradbury Speaks, p. 51; September 26, 2005, review of The Halloween Tree, p. 67.
Sarasota Herald Tribune, February 6, 2000, Steven G. Reed, "A Phone Call from Ray Bradbury."
St. Louis Post- Dispatch, June 16, 2002, Dorman T. Shindler, "Bradbury Is Back with a Fascinating New Collection," p. F10.
Star Ledger (Newark, NJ), August 25, 2003, "A Nearly Out-of-This-World Party," p. O26.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), April 25, 2003, Gray-don Royce, "A Suitable Storyteller," p. E8; April 29, 2003, Lisa Brock, " Ice Cream Suit Topped with a Sense of Wonder," p. B4.
Sunday Mirror (London, England), May 15, 2005, "History Made in Galway Uni," p. 11.
Sunday Times (London, England), May 25, 1986, John Coleman, review of Death Is a Lonely Business.
Time, March 24, 1975; October 13, 1980; August 6, 1990, Stefan Kanfer, review of A Graveyard for Lunatics, p. 75; May 25, 1992, Kanfer, review of Green Shadows, White Whale, p. 68.
Writer, January, 2003, Beatrice Cassina, "Ray Bradbury's 'Theater of the Morning': When His Characters Come Talk to Him, He Listens," pp. 26-31; December, 2003, "'I Was Never a Science Fiction Writer,' Ray Bradbury Says," p. 11.
Writing!, November-December, 2001, Sarah Kizis, "A Virtual Visit to the Veldt," p. 14.
Ray Bradbury Home Page,http://www.raybradbury.com/ (June 5, 2005).
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (July 11, 2003), James Hibberd, "Ray Bradbury Is on Fire!"
Ray Bradbury is an American author known for his highly imaginative short stories and novels that blend a poetic style, nostalgia for childhood, social criticism, and an awareness of the hazards of runaway technology. Among his best known works are Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and The Martian Chronicles.
And that I am so glad that I knew him. I can imagine all kinds of worlds and places, but I cannot imagine a world without Bradbury. Not Ray Bradbury the man (I have met him. Each time I have spent any time with him I have been left the happier for it) but Bradbury the builder of dreams.
Ray Bradbury was the kind of person who would give half a day to a kid who wanted to be a writer when he grew up. I encountered Ray Bradbury's stories as a boy. The first one I read was Homecoming, about a human child in a world of Addams Family-style monsters, who wanted to fit in.
Fahrenheit 451 was partially inspired by Nazi book burning.
“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”