Ray Bradbury: Where Imagination May Take Us
In My Room/Spaceship
In the month of July, 1967, Ray Bradbury was brought to NASA to meet the Apollo astronauts. He was nervous. He supported space travel with all his heart and believed deeply in the progress of mans movement towards Mars.
The Apollo mission was the first step and he felt as if he was standing amongst hero's of the human race that were about to make lasting history. He didn't know how to act and he stood there quietly amongst the astronauts.
Finally the silence was broken and it seemed all the room spoke in unison.
"Ray I would have never become an astronaut if it was not for The Martian Chronicles."
He was taken by surprise. They had read his book. Now his heroes all gathered around him and hugged him for his gift.
I was around ten when I picked up The Martian Chronicles. Funny how I have saved that book all these years on my bookshelf. The same copy sits silently without a front cover and dusty. I haven't been able to throw it away.
Shortly after I experienced reading The Martian Chronicles I read Dandelion Wine and was able to remember the joys of being a young boy with every page.
Then in High School we were told to read Fahrenheit 451. Another fascinating read. This book was the only book that Ray Bradbury admitted as Science Fiction. He considered himself a fantasy writer, in that he did not include a lot of factual scientific data in most of his novels except this one.
I also dreamed of space flight, from my bed in my room, while I read The Martian Chronicles. I did not become an astronaut, but I would like to thank Ray Bradbury all the same.
"The Secret of life is being in love..."
Ray Bradbury was interviewed during the 2010 Comic Con and confessed to being a Zen Buddhist. He also stated that "the secret of life is being in love..." and "so much of my career was based on love."
Ray's biographer Sam Weller spent many years with the Bradbury family and after Ray's death published numerous interviews between him and Ray. I heard one of Weller's interviews on NPR shortly after Ray's death in 2012 at the age of 94.
Ray stated in the interview that he loved writing more than anything in the world and enjoyed the process. He stated that he did not understand writers who complained about the process.
But his love was not only centered on writing. Within his lifetime he wrote screenplays for his show The Ray Bradbury Theater in the late 1970's and the screenplay for John Huston's Moby Dick.
He also had a chance to codirect the movie version of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which he discusses during the 2010 Comic Con interview.
He tried his hand at architecture. He helped to design the Epcott Center in Florida and some memorable buildings and parks in Los Angeles.
Pretty good for someone who graduated high school but did not go to college. He had a great love of libraries and explains in many of his interviews how he graduated from the local library. He helped donate money to libraries around the country and fought for libraries throughout his life. He stated in the Comic Con interview that if you need to learn something go to the library, it is all there, and it is free.
I feel the real lesson that can be learned from this amazing man is that if you work at something because you truly love it, you can create something incredible.
The Martian Chronicles
The Martian Chronicles is a book that discusses the human race populating Mars. It is Epic in that the story begins with the spaceship to evaluate the living conditions on the red planet and then ends with humans having populated Mars for over hundreds of years.
Ray Bradbury was obsessed with Mars and believed that the human race should look at the move to Mars as our number one destiny. He believed that the moon was the first step and that we needed to work on heading back to the moon to start colonization.
During the Comic Con interviews he stated that he wanted to be buried in a Campbells soup can on Mars.
Dandelion Wine is an autobiographical look at Ray Bradbury's boyhood. When asked how he maintained such a good attitude throughout his life he replied that he never grew up. He considered himself a sort of Peter Pan.
He said that staying in a constant state of boyhood is what gave him the energy to create what he created. Dandelion Wine is an incredible exploration of boyhood that fills the reader with great moments of nostalgia for childhood.
I strongly recommend this book to all not just the science fiction fanatics out there.
The Illustrated Man
The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories that he ties together with tattoos.
Each story revolves around a time traveller who gets tattoos to remember his travels. Each story stands alone throughout the book and each story leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
When asked after the Comic Con interview what motivated him to write Something Wicked This Way Comes Ray commented that it was his lifelong fascination with the Circus and Carnivals.
Not only it this book a vivid picture of Carnival life it also has great twists and turns and is a little bit of a spine tingler.
A Sound of Thunder
This memorable story of the consequences of Time Travel contains a plot that has been repeated throughout the genre.
I am not going to explain here, read the book, or see the movie that came out in 2005.
Remaining Book List
Here is a list of books by Ray Bradbury other than the ones mentioned above:
Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury
The October Country
Now and Forever
The Cat's Pajamas
Death is a Lonely Business
A Graveyard for Lunatics
Green Shadow, White Whale
I Sing the Body Electric
A Medicine for Melancholy
From the Dust Returned
Let's All Kill Constance
S is for Space
R is for Rocket
Throughout Ray Bradbury's life he kept writing fan mail to the writers that he looked up to. He loved Prince Valiant and collected the comic throughout his life. He wrote to the author of the comic multiple times explaining how much he loved his work.
He also loved Tarzan and had written many letters to Edgar Rice Burroughs. He invited Burroughs to join him and a collection of Science Fiction writers including Robert Heinlein in LA but Burroughs declined.
I find it refreshing that he worshipped his heroes throughout his life. I feel it is healthy to keep childlike fascinations throughout ones life no matter what age.
Ray also wrote poetry, I have not been able to find any published anywhere, but he admitted to loving it. He also stated during the Comic Con interview that he was influenced by Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.
Ray Bradbury was an incredible man who wrote some incredible fiction. He lived a long life, as a boy throughout. He kept working and never gave up on his passions.
Please enjoy some of his novels, maybe watch an old Bradbury film. He motivated me at a young age and he may be able to motivate you.