Bradbury was one of the first science fiction and fantasy authors I ever read. We lived in Wichita Falls when I was in the 5th grade. The children’s section was in the basement of the main branch of the library downtown. It was a wonderful place.
Off to one side they had a spinner rack of paperbacks, much like you could find in a drug store. On the rack were James Blish’s Star Trek books, a couple of collections of Twilight Zone tie-ins, Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, and I don’t remember what else.
Except for the Ray Bradbury volumes. Those I remember quite clearly. Most of these were the Bantam editions from the late 70s that had a drawing of Ray’s face in the middle of the cover and a mural behind him. The Illustrated Man was there. And Something Wicked This Way Comes. S is for Space. And The Martian Chronicles. I would read Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, Long After Midnight, The October Country, and all the other books later, but the titles I listed first have remained in my memory for decades.
I started reading off that rack regularly in the 5th grade, and when a guest came to our reading class and read “The Screaming Woman” to us from that very edition of S is for Space, I was hooked.
We lost Ray a couple of years ago, and I wrote then of the impact he had on my life. Ray Bradbury is one of the few authors in my library with an entire shelf reserved for his works.
Now if you’ll, excuse me, I’m going to read a few selections. Maybe something from The October Country, followed by a tale from The Illustrated Man…