Monday, August 22, 2011


If you're familiar with my work—and I suspect you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't—then you probably know that, of all the gods in my literary pantheon, no one has inspired me more than Ray Bradbury.  As I've said here before, people call Bradbury a science-fiction writer, a fantasist, but I don’t think either label applies.  He’s a preacher, a rhapsodist, an interfaith—no, interdimensional—minister.  I’ve rarely encountered anyone who more eloquently encapsulates the sheer sacred joy of life.  When I read a Bradbury story, I not only want to race to the computer and create literary wonders of my own—the greatest gift a fellow writer can give you—I want to race out the door and up the street with my arms wide, embracing the entire universe.

Today is Ray B's 91st birthday and we're all blessed that this great writer, this great man, is still with us.  (And apparently planning a movie adaptation of his glorious novel Dandelion Wine.)  So join me in wishing Mr. Bradbury a heartfelt  happy birthday:  may he be inspiring us all for many years to come.



  1. Well said! Happy Birthday to a true master. ("Interdimensional Minister" is great - true, as well.)

    - Bryan McMillan

  2. I could write an entire book about Bradbury, Bryan, and it still wouldn't express the depth of my love for the man and his work. For today, though, we keep it short and sweet.

  3. I can't recall where I heard it(I think it was either NPR or The Night Air from Australian-B-C Radio national) but it's even more amazing to think that Ray wrote the first draft of Fahrenheit 451 at the library, typing away at public typewriters. That image has always stuck with me when I see it at bookstores.

    I suppose plenty of people bring their laptops down to Starbucks and bang away at their novel, sure - maybe it's not as singular an experience as I imagine. But still - for those of us who remember the completely different world of typewriter-writing (especially those old manual clunkers Ray must have been working on) vs. word processing, it blows my mind that a work of such precision, power, and prophecy has such a starting point... very inspiring, actually.

    Like most of his work.

    What's your favorite, if you could pick one? It's tough, I know... I don't know if I can single one out, myself, but Something Wicked This Way Comes left an indelible impression on my young mind. (As a result, I have to remind myself that the carnival is not evil, whenever I see an advertisement for one.)

    Thanks for posting that radio link to Martian Chronicles - afternoon listening, here I come...!

    Bryan McMillan

  4. If I'm recalling the story correctly, Bryan, not only was Bradbury writing the book on a typewriter in the library, but he had to pay for it, pumping coins into a slot all day. Amazing! (And what better place to write F-451 than a library.)

    I love so many of Bradbury's books and stories, but my favorite of his novels -- and one of my favorite books of all time -- is DANDELION WINE. My favorite short story is "The April Witch."

  5. JM,

    If you haven't seen this already, a short review of a new book about Ray Bradbury at Salon:

    I don't know how anyone can film DANDELION WINE & possibly do it any justice, but if they can just come reasonably close, I'll be thrilled. Bradbury is difficult to translate to film, as so much of his magic is in his lyrical prose -- even so, it's a worthwhile aspiration. :)

    Can't recall which Bradbury story was my first, but I do remember the powerful impact of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES when I was 13 or so. Man, I couldn't get enough of his work after that! (Bet that sounds all too familiar, too.)

    And now I want to go back & reread all of it again.

  6. Hey, Tim! I don't know how you can possibly film DANDELION WINE either. It would require a poetic, lyrical director -- maybe Terrence Malick -- capable of translating Bradbury's visions to the screen. I hope they succeed, but if they don't, that extraordinary book will always be there.

    I think the first Bradbury I read was FAHRENHEIT 451, when I was (I think) sixteen. Oddly, it didn't bowl me over and I didn't go deep down the Bradbury rabbit hole till a few years later when I started picking up all those wonderful short story collections.

    Thanks for the link to that Salon article: can't wait to read it. Best -- JMD

  7. He is the person responsible for teaching me to love reading way back in 7th grade!

  8. How amazing, Tim, that the kid who found Bradbury in the 7th grade grew up to do such a memorable graphic novel adaptation of FAHRENHEIT 451.

  9. I picked up the Ray Bradbury Theater series from the 80s on DVD and have been making my way through it. I was curious if you've seen it and what your thoughts are.

    I caught a few episodes when it was on. "The Town Where No One Gets Off" I remembered pretty well. But most of it is new to me. I recognize most of the stories, of course, but new to me, adapatation-wise. I like the ones that I remember from EC stories - it's fun just to see anything from EC adapted! Adaptations of their adaptations, more precisely.

    One I'd never seen before was "The Murderer," which could be unique in its absolutely spot-on depiction of a future society over-saturated with social networking and invasive technology, etc. It was such a great reminder of a time before cellphones and iphones - not that I'm anti any of those things, just such an interesting and prescient moment.

    The 80s weren't a bad time for anthology tv, come to think of it. You had Tales from the Darkside, the Crypt, Friday the 13th the Series, Freddy's Nightmares, Amazing Stories, Ray Bradbury, and not to mention the Twilight Zone. A mixed bag, to be sure, but a lot to pick from.

  10. I remember the Bradbury show, in fact I rented a disc or two of episodes a few years back. It seemed to me that when the show started on HBO it had a healthier budget and was of a higher quality; when it shifted networks -- and I don't recall where it ended up -- the budgets got smaller and the show as a whole developed an overall cheaper feeling. That said, it was a) an anthology, a form that I adore and b) Bradbury -- so there's not all that much to complain about.

    My favorite episode (and it's one of the very first) is probably "The Playground": a great story, one that will touch any parent's heart, with a moving, low-key performance from William Shatner.

    Yes, there was a lot of interesting anthology TV in the 80's. I'd like to see it come back. And I'd like to write lots of it!

  11. A resurrected form of the show with you and say, Alan Brennert at the helm... these would be the things I'd think to do if I ever found the proverbial bag of money on the train...

    Yeah, the Playground is a very interesting episode. That ending is anything but happy. It leaves you in a very vulnerable place - perfect for the theme.

    I agree on the budget/ move-to-the-cheap as the show progressed. It's too bad.

    Thanks! - Bryan

  12. I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Bryan, and had dinner with Alan Brennert: first time I'd seen him in something like twenty years. He remains a wonderful guy...and one of the finest writers it's ever been my pleasure to know. (More on Alan in an upcoming post.)

    Doing an anthology series in collaboration with Brennert? Sounds like TV heaven!