Tag Archives: Ray Bradbury

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Bradbury as a young man

Douglas Ray Bradbury was born on this date, August 22, in the year 1920. He passed away on June 5, 2102. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years already.

Bradbury was one of the first science fiction and fantasy writers I ever read, back when I was in grade school. It was a life changing experience.

I’ve always preferred his fiction from the 1940s and early 1950s, the stuff published in Weird Tales and Thrilling Wonder Stories, to his later works, However, it’s been a few years since I read some of his later fiction. It’s about time I returned to it. I’m older now and my tastes have changed.

I’ve got a little bit of time free this evening, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than with a few Bradbury short stories.

Rather than say anymore about him, I’ll leave you with this quote:

 

Happy Birthday, Charles Beaumont

beaumontCharles Beaumont was born this day in 1929.  He passed away in 1967.  Beaumont was a protege of Ray Bradbury and a central figure in what’s come to be called the California School.  Other members were Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Chad Oliver, and the late George Clayton Johnson.  Johnson’s story “Your Three Minutes Are Up” is a tribute to his friend.

Beaumont is best remembered today for penning a number of scripts for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.  He also wrote the novel The Intruder which was filmed by Roger Corman and starred William Shatner.

Beaumont’s strengths lay in short stories.  I came across a slim volume when I was a sophomore in high school; I bought it on the strength of Ray Bradbury’s introduction and read it during a move across the state.  Not all of the stories worked for me.  Some of them were aimed for a more mature reader.  I don’t mean “mature” in terms of sexual content (although that was part of it) but that the themes weren’t something a young teen could relate to.

On the other hand, the stories that did resonate with me blew me away.  I was hooked and spent years haunting used book stores trying to find all of his collections.  In addition to being the epitome of a professional working writer, Beaumont was an avid race fan.  He and Nolan often raced.

charles_beaumontBeaumont’s death is usually attributed to some type of early-onset Alzheimer’s.  He began to age swifty at the age of 34.  His loss was deeply felt.

Centipede Press recently published The Intruder, crime thriller Run From the Hunter (written collaboratively with John Tomerlin), and a massive collection of short fiction, Mass for Mixed Voices (which sold out almost immediately, and no, I won’t loan you my copy.)  This past year penguin published Perchance to Dream:  Selected Stories.  Also available is the collection A Touch of the Creature, which contains all the stories in the limited edition published by Subterranean Press (2000) along with three more.  These stories weren’t collected during Beaumont’s lifetime.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going reread some Beaumont short stories.  Please turn out the light when you leave…on second thought, better not.

Happy 100th Birthday, Leigh Brackett

Leigh BrackettSo today is the centennial of Leigh Brackett’s birth.  If you’ve paid any attention to this blog in the last few weeks, you know that I’ve been making a big deal of that and will continue to do so.

Some of you good people might be wondering:  So just who was this Leigh Brackett person and why was she so important?

I’m glad you asked. Continue reading

Brackett and Bradbury: “Lorelei of the Red Mist”

Planet Stories - Lorelei of the Red MistThis is a unique item.  The only collaboration between two great science fiction authors, Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury.  Here’s how it came about:

Both authors were living in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s, and both had been working hard to develop their craft as writers.  Both were regulars in Planet Stories at the time.  They were friends who had both been mentored by Henry Kuttner.  They used to meet once a week to read and critique each other’s work.

no good from a corpseBrackett had sold some detective short stories as well as one novel, No Good From a Corpse.  The novel caught the attention of movie producer Howard Hawks, who decided he wanted Brackett to work on the screenplay for his next project.  She was approximately halfway through a novellette she was writing for Planet Stories that was set on Venus (More about Brackett’s Venus in a bit.) when she got a call from Hawks, or more probably his secretary.  Which is how Brackett launched her screenwriting career by coauthoring with William Faulkner the script for Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  How freakin’ cool is that? Continue reading

In the Deep and Dark December

[cue Simon and Garfunkle]

I’m not a huge Simon and Grafunkle fan, but I couldn’t help but steal the title of this post from “I am a Rock”.  Here are my reading/writing/blogging plans for the last month of the year.

Leigh Brackett

Leigh Brackett

The big thing is that Leigh Brackett’s birthday is next Monday, December 7.  It’s her centennial, and I’ll be focusing a lot on her work this month.  I’m not the only one.  Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward will be discussing “The Moon the Vanished”, one of her novellas set on a swampy Venus next Monday on Howard’s blog.  Click here for details and join the discussion.  I’m not going to be discussing that particular story here, but I will take some detailed looks at some others.  I’m probably going to start with “Lorelei of the Red Mist”, which she began and Ray Bradbury finished when Howard Hawks offered her a job writing the screenplay to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep with William Faulkner.  You can get electronic copies of both stories in Swamps of Venus from Baen ($4), or get the Solar System bundle for $20. Continue reading

Henry Kuttner at 100

kuttnerOne of my all-time favorite writers was born 100 years ago on this date.  Henry Kuttner was a prolific author who wrote in multiple genres.  Kuttner started out writing Lovecraft pastiche for Weird Tales.

Kuttner mentored Ray Bradbury and wrote the ending to Bradbury’s “The Candle” when Bradbury got stuck.  In the introduction to the Ballatine/Del Rey edition of The Best of Henry Kuttner (there was a 2 volume British edition by the same name with more and different stories), Bradbury says in reference to “The Graveyard Rats” that Kuttner didn’t want to be remembered as a minor league Lovecraft.  That’s a paraphrase, as I don’t have the book here with me.  I looked at “The Graveyard Rats” on Kuttner’s birthday last year. Continue reading

A Journey Through The October Country

October Country 1The October Country
Ray Bradbury
Illustrations by Joe Mugnaini
mass market paperback 307 p., $7.99
ebook Kindle $7.21 Nook $10.99

I first read this collection in the early ’80s, around 1980 or 1981, I think.  Some of the stories have stayed with me (“The Small Assassin”, “The Scythe”), while some I’d completely forgotten (“Touched with Fire”, “The Cistern”).

Most of the stories were recycled from Dark Carnival, with a few being left out and a few being added.  I’d hoped to have time to read the ones left out and discuss the differences in the two collections, but that will have to wait for a later post.  For those unaware, Dark Carnival, from Arkham House, was Bradbury’s first collection.  Original copies are hard to come by and will cost you a pretty penny.  The author’s definitive edition from a decade or so ago isn’t cheap either.

Fortunately there isn’t that much difference in the contents, and the casual reader can enjoy the stories as they appear in this volume.  There will be spoilers on some of them. Continue reading

A Visit to Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show

something wicked this way comesSomething Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury
Avon, 304 pgs.
mass market paperback $7.99
ebook $3.99 Kindle Nook

I first read this book something like 35 years ago, give or take, probably in 5th grade. I reasonably certain it had to have been before spring break of my 6th grade year, because that was the year of the tornado. After we rebuilt the house, I got to have a room of my own. This is relevant because I envisioned the room I shared with my brother as Will’s room as I read the book.  (Assuming my memory isn’t playing tricks on me.)

There’s a risk when you return to a beloved novel from your youth. Will it live up to the memory? Often it doesn’t.

The advantage here is that after so many years, I didn’t remember more than a few scenes from the book, primarily the Dust Witch coming after the boys in the balloon in the middle of the night. Other than a few general things, I didn’t recall much.

I’m pleased to say that the novel held up quite well. It was better than I remembered. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury olderRay Bradbury was born on this date in 1920.  He was one of the greatest writers in his, or arguably any, generation.

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 ComesS 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