Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bradbury 101 - Bradbury's Lost Book

Dark Carnival is something of a lost book. It was Bradbury's first book, published way back in 1947, but allowed - by Bradbury - to go out of print.

In the latest episode of my YouTube series Bradbury 101, I pick some of the best stories from Dark Carnival and explain why and how it became a lost masterpiece.

You can read more about Dark Carnival in my Lockdown Choices series, here. And learn more about the book it evolved into - The October Country - here.

I've also blogged about The Small Assassin, a UK-only book which is something of a bridge between Dark Carnival and The October Country. Read all about it here.

I hope you are enjoying the Youtube series. After you've watched the latest episode, let me know what you think!





Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Bradbury 101 is here!

Last year, Ray Bradbury's centenary, was the year of Bradbury 100 - my audio podcast celebrating his life and works.

This year, I switch to Bradbury 101 - a new series that gets back to basics and offers suggestions of how to get started with Ray Bradbury. The first episode is on Youtube now - see below - and future episodes will include more video episodes and some audio-only podcasts. I'll always post them here, but you can also pick the video episodes up from Youtube and the audio episodes via your existing Bradbury 100 podcast subscription

So without further ado, here's the first episode, in which I give recommendations of how to get started with Ray Bradbury stories, books, films and biography.



 

Here are links for current editions of the various books etc recommended in the video:

The Stories of Ray Bradbury - Amazon US - Amazon UK

Bradbury Stories - Amazon US - Amazon UK

The Illustrated Man - Amazon US - Amazon UK

Fahrenheit 451 book - Amazon US - Amazon UK

The Bradbury Chronicles biography - Amazon US - Amazon UK

Fahrenheit 451 bluray - Amazon US - Amazon UK

The Ray Bradbury Theater DVD  - Amazon US - Amazon UK

 

 

 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Staying up to date with the Bradbury 100 podcast

While most listeners to my podcast Bradbury 100 listen online or via a podcast app, a good few listen to it via YouTube - but I got way behind in keeping the YouTube copies up to date.Oops!

So I've been putting things right this week, with two episodes belatedly added today, and more to follow in the next few days. So if you're one of those YouTube followers who were wondering when Episodes 14-18 had got to, wonder no more.

The YouTube channel, with episodes 1-15 can be found here

And below is my periodic re-post of how to find all the individual episodes with their show notes:


---------------------------------------------------------

 

To make it easier for people to discover my Bradbury 100 podcast, you'll periodically see this page, which will gather all the episodes and shows together.

 

Bonus Video Episode -  video of my public lecture on The Martian Chronicles at seventy

Episode 18 - with science fiction writer and scholar Howard V. Hendrix, on Bradbury's influence and legacy

Episode 17 - with highlights from two centenary events: Bradbury 100 Live and The Martian Chronicles at Seventy

Episode 16 - with writer and friend of Ray, Gregory Miller

Episode 15 - with Emmy-winning actor Bill Oberst Jr, who appears as Ray in a one-person show

Episode 14 - with writer and scholar Jeffrey Kahan on how Bradbury's fiction works

Episode 13 - with storyteller Megan Wells on performing Bradbury's stories and characters

Episode 12 - with writer/director/actor Jerry Robbins, who adapted many Bradbury works for Colonial Radio Theater

Episode 11 - with writer and editor Charles Ardai, who edited the new Bradbury crime story collection Killer, Come Back To Me

Episode 10 - with Ray Bradbury Theatre composer John Massari

Episode 9 - with scholar Miranda Corcoran, talking about Ray's "Elliott family"

Episode 8  - the second part of my interview with award-winning dramatist Brian Sibley, talking mostly about adapting Bradbury for radio

Episode 7 - with writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley, talking mostly about Disney

Episode 6 - continuing my interview with Jonathan R. Eller, Bradbury biographer and scholar

Episode 5 - with Jonathan R. Eller, Bradbury biographer, whose latest book Bradbury Beyond Apollo completes his biographical trilogy

Episode 4 - with photographer Elizabeth Nahum-Albright, who has a current exhibition on Ray Bradbury's house

Episode 3 - with Sandy Petroshius of the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum

Episode 2 - with Jason Aukerman of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies

Episode 1 - with author Steven Paul Leiva, creator of Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles

 

The best way to never miss an episode is to subscribe.




Friday, January 08, 2021

Coming soon...

Happy New Year!

With 2020 well and truly over, we can say goodbye to Ray Bradbury's centenary year. Although, as I have pointed out previously, you could legitimately say that Ray's centenary year runs from 22 August 2020 through to 22 August 2021...

But let's not confuse matters!

In any case, the centenary-style celebration of Ray can continue. We don't need any excuse for that. And so, with a minor little drum role, I will introduce you to this year's successor to my Bradbury 100 podcast.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome -


 

Bradbury 101 is not simply clicking the year on and saying, "Oh, we're celebrating Ray's 101st year now." No, it is a sort of sister podcast to Bradbury 100. Think of it as "Bradbury for beginners", or "introducing Ray Bradbury".

It's going to be a while before I launch the first episode, but you'll be the first to hear about it here on Bradburymedia. The episodes will be shorter than the Bradbury 100 episodes, more in the way of bite-sized examinations of Ray's work. And it will adopt a more-or-less chronological approach, talking about each of Ray's major works in turn. I think you're going to like it!


Friday, December 25, 2020

Ray Bradbury's Christmas Gift

 Re-posting this blog post from 2013 has become a Christmas tradition here at Bradburymedia!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Seasons greetings, everyone!

I've noted previously that Ray Bradbury wrote very few Christmas-themed stories, but one of his best-known is "The Gift". It was first published in Esquire magazine in 1952. The artwork above (click to embiggen) is by Ren Wickes, and in the child's face beautifully captures the good old "sense of wonder" people used to talk about in science fiction stories.

To find out why the child is so astonished, read "The Gift" here.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

RIP James E. Gunn (1923-2020)

The great science fiction writer, historian, editor and educator James E. Gunn has passed away at the grand age of 97. Jim was still an active professional author, with his Transcendental trilogy being published in the 2010s, and his latest short fiction appearing in Asimov's magazine just this year.

Jim was one of the few surviving writers from the original heyday of science fiction: he had two short stories published in pulp magazines in the 1940s (one in Startling Stories and one in Thrilling Wonder Stories). He was just three years younger than Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

Back in the 1980s, when I was heavily into science fiction literature, Jim's novel The Listeners was one of my favourite books. Not only did it have a great science-fictional premise - scientists listening out for signals from other star systems - it was clearly informed by what was going on in the real field of SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It was a lot less flashy than Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but a lot more convincing.

But where James E. Gunn had the greatest effect on me was with his historical study of origins and development of science fiction. His terrific anthology series The Road to Science Fiction not only told the story of SF, it set out to demonstrate it through judicious selections of text from early, proto-SF through to modern day works.

Seven years ago, I was delighted to meet James Gunn at a conference, and I blogged about it afterwards. I can think of no better tribute than to re-run that blog post. So here it is, from 26 August 2013.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

 

(Pictured at the James Gunn panel are (from left to right) Nathaniel Williams, Michael Page, James Gunn, Chris McKitterick.)   

 

One of the delights of this year's Eaton Conference in Riverside, California, was the opportunity to meet the incredible James Gunn.

What's so incredible about James Gunn? For starters, he's ninety years old this year, but could easily pass for twenty years younger. More importantly, though, he is what one conference speaker called "a triple threat": not only a successful author of science fiction, but a successful teacher of SF and creative writing, and a successful critic and historian of SF.

While other significant genre figures were associated with the Eaton Conference because they were to receive awards - Ray Harryhausen, Stan Lee and Ursula Le Guin all received Eaton Awards this year - Gunn was present because there was going to be a panel discussing the three strands of his career. The panel was part academic study, part reminiscence from those who have worked with Jim , and all celebration of his life and work. (The panel organisers told me they were inspired to do this by the Ray Bradbury tribute events I organised for last year's SFRA conference in Detroit.)

Apart from my ongoing interest in Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, who in any case I see as master fantasists rather than science fiction writers, I have been quite distant from the science fiction field for a number of years. But there was a time when I was fascinated by the genre, and particularly by its history as a literary genre that seemed to emerge alongside the industrial revolution. Around 1980, when I was a student (for the first time; I still am a student!) I discovered Gunn's book The Road to Science Fiction: From Gilgamesh to Wells. This was a remarkable book, which suddenly gave me that historical insight, where previously I just had a fractional and fractured knowledge of what SF was. Gunn wrote a clear history, in plain English and short chapters, and then gave the reader substantial excerpts from key texts to illustrate the points he was making about the emergence of the genre. It was, and remained, and excellent way of learning about how and why the genre came into existence. I would later learn that there are other interpretations of the emergence of the genre, but that doesn't matter.

Shortly after, I discovered there was a second volume to The Road to Science Fiction, subtitled From Wells to Heinlein; and a third, From Heinlein to Here. (And a fourth, and some time later there were yet more.) For anyone looking for a history of the genre, I still recommend this series, and they have remained in print.

One additional stroke of genius in the first volumes of the series was Gunn's inclusion of lists of recommended SF works and SF writers for further reading. I worked through these lists systematically over the next couple of years, a far more difficult task in those pre-internet days than it would be today.

I don't recall whether Gunn included any of his own works in the suggested reading category, but for some reason I was prompted to also sample his fiction. The Listeners appealed to me from its plot description as an account of scientists engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and when I read it I was blown away by both the ease and artistry of the book, particularly its first chapter. Later I would track down as many other Gunn books as I could, and have fond memories of The Joy Makers, The Immortal, Crisis, and This Fortess World (which I was fortunate to find in a hardcover first edition from 1955).

At the Eaton Conference, Gunn explained that his career wasn't planned, but he just took opportunities as they arose. His response to each offer that came his way was, "Why not?" Thus it was that he came to be working at Kansas University by the mid-1960s, and later set up the first academic courses in SF, and the first research centre for SF (take a look at About SF for the present incarnation of what he developed at KU).

I took the opportunity of asking Jim Gunn how he came to collaborate with the legendary Jack Williamson, on the 1954 novel Starbridge. Jim explained that he attended a convention and, somewhat starstruck, recognised Williamson from a photograph on the back of a book. He pointed at Williamson and blurted, "You're Jack Williamson!" Later, he learned that Williamson was suffering a bout of writer's block, and Williamson turned over a partially complete version of Starbridge, which Gunn then completed. It was published by Gnome Press, and became Gunn's first published novel.

I couldn't resist mentioning to Jim that I had recognised him in the lift (elevator!) the day before - and that part of me had wanted to blurt, "You're James Gunn!", but I was too starstruck to say anything.

As it turns out, Jim Gunn is a charming, modest fellow, and it was exciting to meet him. It prompted me to take a look again at his books - and I still find The Listeners to be a remarkable work. Although it is fantastical, it has one of the best portrayals of scientists and scientific discovery I've ever seen in a work of fiction. Speakers on the Gunn panel also commended this as one of his best works - and both they and the audience members echoed my experience regarding The Road to Science Fiction. It seems James Gunn has been the gateway to SF not just to me, but to a couple of generations of SF fans and scholars. Jim talks about his own involvement with the genre in this recent interview in the Kansas City Star.

And now, in his 90th year, James Gunn has produced a new novel, Transcendental, and he's a Guest of Honour at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Is this what they call a third act?


 

Monday, December 14, 2020

SF Does Christmas, Lacks Character

Ray Bradbury is associated more with autumn and Halloween than he is with Christmas, but he did write a couple of stories with a Christmas theme. Well, sort of...

 


 

"The Man", first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in February 1949 (and later collected in The Illustrated Man, S is for Space and Bradbury Stories) tells of a space crew which arrives on an alien planet expecting to be celebrated or greeted. But the local inhabitants have no interest in them. They've arrived with very poor timing, as the aliens are in awe of some much more interesting guy who arrived yesterday. Not just any guy, but "a remarkable man, [...] good, intelligent, compassionate, and infinitely wise!"

A man for whom they had waited a very long time...

Once convinced of the special capabilities of "The Man" (healing is involved...), the captain vows to follow him from planet to planet, hoping to one day catch up with him. The story never actually says who "The Man" is, but you're clearly supposed to see him as Jesus (or some deity of your choosing).

Curiously, a couple of years later in another pulp magazine, a lesser writer tackled the same idea. But in a most literal and obvious way. Charles E. Fritch wrote "Night Talk", published in Startling Stories in September 1952. In this story, a rocket ship makes a bumpy landing on Mars, and the pilot makes his way to the nearest hotel - like you do - and tries to get a room for the night. The hotelier tells of how he once made a mistake in turning away a couple from Earth, telling them there was no room at this particular inn.

 


 

Fritch's story is quite forgettable, but thankfully brief. If you're interested it, you can find it at the Internet Archive, here. Amusingly, SF writer and critic James Blish at first believed this to be a Bradbury story published under a pseudonym. Mars? Check. Primitive but metaphorical description of a rocketship? Check. Earth destroyed so everyone's trying to get to Mars? Check. Re-use of the idea of a messiah travelling from planet to planet? Check. All the clues were there. But Blish was wrong.

Blish can be forgiven. Fritch had begun publishing only in 1951, and his Bradbury-influenced Mars story could easily have been a lesser Bradbury; and Bradbury had published under pseudonyms. However, Fritch turned out to have a long, if not particularly illustrious career, publishing his last works in the 1990s. Blish's error - and correction of the error - can be found in his collection of SF reviews, The Issue at Hand (1964, under Blish's critic pseudonym William Atheling Jr.)

Blish's reason for discussing the two stories - the Bradbury and the Fritch - is to make a point about the importance of characters in good fiction. Fritch's central character, just called "the traveller", has no distinguishing characteristics. Bradbury's central character, Captain Hart, is just your average 1940s pulp magazine space hero. Blish suggests that both Fritch and Bradbury could have learned a thing or two from Anatole France's story "The Procurator of Judea", which brings to life one Aelius Lamia and a certain Pontius Pilate. France's story has no plot connection to "The Man" or "Night Talk", but like both of those stories it places the Christian Jesus into the background of a story for the purposes of irony or awe, depending on your religious persuasions.

You can read "The Procurator of Judea" here.



Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Jar

Seventy-six years ago, in November 1944, Weird Tales magazine debuted a classic Ray Bradbury short story: "The Jar".

 


 

It's a simple short story, involving the purchase of a jar with mysterious, unfathomable contents. Something preserved in formaldehyde, perhaps? No one can be quite sure.

The story remains one of Bradbury's most popular, and it has been anthologised and collected dozens of times over the years. A quick skim of its history at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database indicates about 74 appearances! Nowadays you can find it in two of Ray's books: The October Country and The Stories of Ray Bradbury.

And, of course, "The Jar" is a perennial favourite in adaptation. It was adapted magnificently for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, in a version directed by Norman Lloyd; re-adapted (badly) for the 1980s revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where it was directed by Tim Burton; and adapted again (competently) for The Ray Bradbury Theater, with a script by Bradbury himself. It's also been done for radio and occasionally for the stage.


You can read my reviews of the various TV versions here:

Hitchcock (original)

Hitchcock (revival)

Bradbury

 

The actual jar from the original Hitchcock version survives to this day. For decades Ray Bradbury had it in his basement office, and after he died it was gifted to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in Indianapolis. The waters within the jar are even murkier now than they were back in the 1960s when the episode was filmed, but you still get a sense that there's something in there looking out at you...




 

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Martian Chronicles at Seventy - online now

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a public lecture as part of the University of Wolverhampton's ArtsFest 2020. My topic was Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles at Seventy, marking the seventieth anniversary of the first publication of that book.

Bradbury himself recognised that The Martian Chronicles was a "half-cousin to a novel", being neither a short story collection nor a full novel. In the lecture, I discussed how this came about, and how it influences the way the book has survived these last seventy years.

I released the audio from the lecture as part of a recent Bradbury 100 podcast, but you can now also see the video of the lecture. Given that it was an illustrated talk, this has to be the best way to enjoy it...


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 18

Time for another episode of Bradbury 100! And - for now - the last episode.

When I started this series back in July, I expected I might be able to produce a handful of episodes. But I was overwhelmed by the number of Ray's friends, collaborators and fans who agreed to be interviewed. And so I ended up with enough material for eighteen episodes.

But now, with the academic year in full swing (I'm a full-time university lecturer), I have very little free time, and the production cycle of Bradbury 100 needs to stop.

I do hope to return with some one-off episodes, so I hope you will stay subscribed on your podcast app. That way, you will continue to see any new episodes that come along.

To end the regular series, I chose to speak to Howard V. Hendrix, a professional science fiction writer who also happens to be scholar of science fiction. Howard has given public presentations about Ray's work, and published books and articles about Mars in science fiction.

And although Howard is often classed as a "hard SF" writer - putting him at the opposite end of the spectrum to Ray Bradbury - Howard is also a creative wordsmith. With Howard's SF writing chops and critic's insight, I can think of few people better to consider the question of Ray Bradbury's legacy.

Shortly after I interviewed Howard, his suffered the terrible loss of his family home to the California forest fires. Thankfully, Howard and his wife were safely evacuated. Howard, who is himself a volunteer firefighter, shortly afterward wrote a moving but philosophical account of how the fire swept in and wrecked whole communities. You can read his article for the San Francisco Chronicle here.


https://i.ytimg.com/vi/R9q8pYq8KMM/maxresdefault.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Show Notes

Howard V. Hendrix is an exceptional writer of science fiction. In the podcast, he discusses his short story collection The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age, which you can find in all good bookshops, and at Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK).

Howard's other books can be found on his author page, here.

A few years ago, Howard co-edited a book about Mars in science fiction, building on a conference on the same theme. I contributed an article about Bradbury's Mars stories. You can find Visions of Mars here.

Howard's entry in Wikipedia.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Bradbury 100 - Episode 17

 This week's Bradbury 100 is a bit different: instead of a featured guest interview, I present highlights from two Bradbury Centenary events from recent times, as well as summing up some of the key centary events of the year so far.

The first of the highlights is a selection from the discussion in the first (and so far, only)  Bradbury 100 LIVE episode. This was an event I ran on Facebook Live back in September. In this recording, I talk to John King Tarpinian - a friend of Ray Bradbury's who often accompanied him to public events - and educator George Jack.

The second is the audio from a public lecture I gave earlier this week, celebrating seventy years of Bradbury's book The Martian Chronicles.

I hope you enjoy this format!


 
 

Show Notes

Find out more about the many Bradbury Centennial events - both past and future - by visiting the Centennial page on the official Ray Bradbury website.

Read more of my assessment of The Martian Chronicles here.

JKT - John King Tarpinian - is a frequent contributor to Mike Glyer's File 770, where he often provides news stories relating to Ray Bradbury. View his posts here.



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Martian Chronicles at Seventy

Today - Tuesday 10th November - I am giving a talk on Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles at Seventy. It's online, entirely free, and open to all. But you do need to register to receive the link. (The talk will be delivered via a Zoom webinar.)

It will also be recorded, and made available for future viewing, but this could take a few weeks.

The talk is part of the University of Wolverhampton's annual ArtsFest. Here's the official blurb for the event:

This year saw the widely celebrated one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), the American author whose best-known work Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four as a classic of twentieth-century dystopian fiction, and still holds relevance today.

But this year also saw the seventieth anniversary of Bradbury’s earlier The Martian Chronicles, a book which better captures the breadth and fragmentary nature of Bradbury’s many styles and interests, and one which more clearly reveals the irony of Bradbury’s association with the science fiction genre. For all its reliance on science-fictional tropes, The Martian Chronicles is a work which builds dream-like fantasy on top of Bradbury’s own fantastical influences. And, while projecting and warning about our future, it relies heavily on a rear-view mirror to reflect on colonialism, invasion and occupation.

In this illustrated lecture, Phil Nichols recounts the history of The Martian Chronicles, and shows how this short-story collection masquerading as a novel has constantly evolved with our changing times. He considers the long shadow the book has cast over television, radio and film science fiction, and shows how Bradbury’s unscientific book has nevertheless inspired several generations of real-life scientists and astronauts.

The online lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Dr Phil Nichols, Course Leader for Film & Television Production at the University of Wolverhampton, has been called “the leading scholar on Bradbury's media adaptation history" by Bradbury biographer Professor Jonathan R. Eller (Bradbury Beyond Apollo, University of Illinois Press, 2020). Phil has spoken about Bradbury on the BBC World Service and National Public Radio, and has published and presented widely on Bradbury’s work in all media. He currently produces and presents a podcast, Bradbury 100, which explores Bradbury’s centenary.


Click the link below to sign up for the talk!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/artsfest-online-ray-bradburys-the-martian-chronicles-at-seventy-tickets-124686527761

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Bradbury 100 - Episode 16

In this week's episode of Bradbury 100, I discuss Ray Bradbury as both a mentor and a mentee. I talk about a few of the major influences on Bradbury's development as a professional writer, and some of those younger writers who he helped once he was established as a writer.

My guest is such a younger writer, Gregory Miller. Greg knew Ray in the last few decades of his life, and benefitted from Ray's advice and guidance.

While I interviewed Greg over Zoom, he was watched-over by an unusual Godzilla figure (which Greg explains in the interview)...

 


 

 

 

 

Show Notes

Find out about some of Ray's mentors here:

Henry Kuttner - Leigh Brackett - Norman Corwin - Bernard Berenson - Charles Laughton

Visit Greg Miller's website

Buy Greg's books on Amazon US or Amazon UK.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Bradbury 100 - Episode 15 - Happy Halloween!

Halloween - a fine day to celebrate Ray Bradbury!

In today's new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast, I talk about Ray Bradbury's use of October and Halloween in his fiction and non-fiction. With three October-based books in his body of work (The October Country, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Halloween Tree), you'd be right to think that Bradbury loved the Autumn months, and claimed Halloween as his favourite holiday.

To match the frightful Halloween theme of the episode, I have as my interviewee this week the Emmy Award-winning actor Bill Oberst Jr, who has been dubbed both the "King of Horror" and the "nice guy of horror". Bill is renowned for his amazing roles in independent horror films, but has also appeared in a broad range of roles in film and TV.

 


But the real reason for speaking to Bill is that he plays the part of Ray Bradbury in his one man show Ray Bradbury: Live Forever!

 


 

 

 

Show Notes

Bill Oberst Jr's website is here: https://www.billoberst.com/

And the website for his remarkable stage show Ray Bradbury: Live Forever is here: https://raybradburyliveforever.com

His achievements are detailed on his Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Oberst_Jr.

His extensive credits in film and TV are on his IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2454994/

And his Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/ActorBillOberstJr/

Finally, Bill's own podcast is the glorious Gothic Goodnight: https://bill-oberst-jr-gothic-goodnight.captivate.fm

 

 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 14

Time for another episode of my podcast Bradbury 100! So far, the series has accumulated around 2000 listens, so we must be doing something right...

My guest this week is Jeffrey Kahan, the writer, scholar and educator. I know Jeffrey from his work on last year's issue of the journal The New Ray Bradbury Review, which he guest-edited. We discuss the journal in the podcast, and you'll find links to it in the show notes down below.

This time next week it will be Halloween - so be prepared for a Halloween-themed episode!

 





 

 

Show Notes

The New Ray Bradbury Review is a journal published by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Jeffrey's issue, no. 6, can be ordered via Amazon.

Jeff's books, such as Shakespeare and Superheroes, are also listed on Amazon, on his author page.

His own conversational podcast is Mentors and Roles Models. I even appeared on an episode myself, though I am neither mentor nor role model. If you want to hear more of Jeff & Phil chatting (we talk about Bradbury, plus Harlan Ellison and Robert Bloch), find it here.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 13

If it's Saturday (and it is), it must be time for another episode of my podcast Bradbury 100.

We're up to episode 13, if you can believe it!

This week, a discussion of storytelling and "the oral tradition", which naturally leads me to talk about Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451.

All of which is preamble for my interview with Megan Wells, a professional storyteller. Now, you may have heard me refer to Ray Bradbury as a storyteller, but that's a different thing. Megan stands (or sometimes sits) before an audience and will literally tell them a story. Not read, tell.

In the interview, Megan explains the differences, from the point of view of both the performer and the audience.

 


Show Notes

Megan Wells' website has full details of her repertoire.

You can also follow Megan on her Megan Wells Tells Facebook page.

I wrote a book chapter about Fahrenheit 451 being adapted to different media. It includes a bit more discussion of David Calcutt's radio play.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 12

This week on my podcast Bradbury 100 we take another look at Bradbury on radio - but American radio this time.

Bradbury's radio credits date back to 1946, when Mollé Mystery Theatre dramatised his story "Killer, Come Back To Me". During the 1940s and 1950s Bradbury submitted many stories to radio networks, just as he submitted stories to magazines. Occasionally, a story would sell.

But as Bradbury became better known, with appearances in "slick" magazines and in books, so his stories became sought-after by radio producers. His short stories in particular became regular fare on shows like Suspense and X Minus One.

In the podcast, I talk about various production companies which continued both the tradition of American radio drama and the tradition of adapting Bradbury. My guest is the multi-talented and prolific Jerry Robbins of Colonial Radio Theatre.

 


 



Show Notes

Find out more about Colonial Radio Theatre...

...and specifically their productions of Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Halloween Tree and The Martian Chronicles. (This link will take you to a page which includes ordering links.)

I also mentioned Bradbury Thirteen, the 1980s series produced by Mike McDonough. The series no longer has an official web presence, but you can find episodes just by Googling. (But don't for one minute believe anyone who tells you the series is "public domain" or "out of copyright". It isn't.)

And I mentioned Peggy Webber's California Artists Radio Theatre, which also no longer has an official eb presence. But you can read my review of one of their Bradbury productions, and this report on CART's production of Leviathan '99.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 11

On this week's new episode of Bradbury 100, I'll be talking about the brand-new Ray Bradbury short story collection Killer, Come Back To Me, published by Hard Case Crime.

My guest on the podcast is the man who put the book together, author and editor Charles Ardai.

All of the stories in the new book have been published before, but a couple of them have only appeared in the academic-press Collected Stories series, and a number of others haven't been reprinted since 1984's A Memory of Murder.

Speaking of A Memory of Murder, I have to point out that this new book is not a reprint of that 1980s collection. It does have some overlap - six of its twenty stories appeared in the earlier book. But this is a carefully curated collection which sets out - as its cover subtitle indicates - to present "the crime stories of Ray Bradbury". Which sounds somewhat definitive. And the collection comes close to being that, since it does contain some of Bradbury's very best work in this field.

A few weeks ago, I published the table of contents of Killer, and I think it's worth displaying it again here:

 

 

You'll see that there are some quite familiar stories here - "The Small Assassin" and "Marionettes, Inc." are among those which have been reprinted many times. But by mixing the "classics" with the best of the Memory of Murder stories, Killer is able to strike a good balance between the classic stories and the less familiar ones.

 

And I'm guessing that some readers will come to this book not specifically because it is Bradbury, but because it is from a well-established publisher of crime fiction.

Anyway, listen to the podcast, and I'll tell you much more about Bradbury's crime fiction, and Charles Ardai will tell us all about the book.




Show Notes

Killer, Come Back To Me is in hardcover in the US. And in the UK, there is a paperback version from HarperCollins:

Order from Amazon US.

Order from Amazon UK.

Visit the website of Hard Case Crime

Learn more about editor/author Charles Ardai.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 10

On this week's Bradbury 100, I talk about Ray Bradbury's long-running TV show, The Ray Bradbury Theatre. And my interview guest is the composer of the theme music for that show, John Massari.

I've often referred to The Ray Bradbury Theatre as Ray's own personal Twilight Zone, and I guess there's some irony in that. Ray did actually write for The Twilight Zone, both the original 1950s/60s version and the 1980s revival. But even if he hadn't written for it, TZ would still have felt quite Bradburyan. There are so many episodes which either take ideas from Bradbury, or situations, or inspiration. And so it shouldn't be too surprising to learn that Bradbury was more than once invited to do his own show. Listen to the podcast, and I'll tell you more about how it came about.

And John Massari - composer for Ray Bradbury Theater and Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Prison Break, to mention just a few - will also let you in on how his music demo ended up being used at the official theme for RBT for the whole seven years. John is pictured below with Ray Bradbury.





Show Notes

Read more about John Massari.

John Massari's music can be found on Soundcloud

You can also find a lot of his work on his Youtube channel.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 9

Time for episode 9 of my Bradbury 100 podcast. This week, we look at Ray Bradbury's popular "Elliott family" stories - you know, his characters Cecy, Uncle Einar, Timothy and so on. Ray started writing these stories way back in the 1950s, and returned to them periodically until he eventually wove the stories into a novel, From the Dust Returned (2001).

My guest is Miranda Corcoran, who is co-editor (with Steve Gronert Ellerhoff) of a new book called Exploring the Horror of Supernatural Fiction: Ray Bradbury’s Elliott Family.

Until now, scholars and critics have paid little attention to the Elliotts, but their time has come! This book is from an academic publisher, so the cover price is high. It's the sort of book you need to persuade your local friendly librarian to buy...


Exploring the Horror of Supernatural Fiction : Ray Bradbury’s Elliott Family book cover






Show Notes

Exploring the Horror of Supernatural Fiction: Ray Bradbury’s Elliott Family on Amazon UK, and on Amazon US.

From the Dust Returned on Amazon UK, and on Amazon US.

The Charles Addams connection - how the Elliott family met the Addams Family.

Miranda Corcoran's blog, Miranda the Middle-Aged Witch.

Follow Miranda on Twitter.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Bradbury 100 - episode 8

Time for another episode of my podcast Bradbury 100. This week, a topic very close to my heart: radio drama. I continue my interview with dramatist Brian Sibley, and we talk mostly about adapting Ray Bradbury for radio.

Brian talks about adapting to different media, and the need for compression (and occasional expansion) of stories in the process. We cover especially The Illustrated Man, "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl" and "The Next in Line".





Show Notes

See my list of Bradbury's radio credits.

I've written a number of articles about Ray's work on BBC Radio. Read them here and here.

Brian contributed many scripts to the 1990s BBC series Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre, which continues to be repeated periodically on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Brian's own Soundcloud channel includes a vast amount of his work, including his episodes of Tales of the Bizarre.


Friday, September 11, 2020