Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Gift

"The Gift" is one of Ray Bradbury's shortest short stories, and one of the few Bradbury stories with a Christmas theme (Halloween will always be Bradbury's holiday of choice).

The story first appeared in 1952 in Esquire magazine, where it was accompanied by a magnificent painting by Ren Wicks (left).

A few years later, Bradbury took the story's central premise and placed it within a completely different narrative and setting, adapting it to the USAF-inspired TV series Steve Canyon (itself based on the comic strip by Milt Caniff).

The long-unseen episodes of that series are being gradually released on DVD, in an excellent piece of restoration work. Bradbury's episode is now on release (all 25 minutes of it) in Steve Canyon on TV Volume 2.

You can read my full review of the episode here.

Finished reading the review? Good. Now you can go and order the DVD! Click on the image below:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Montag Sings. Oh yes, Montag Sings.

One of the more bizarre aspects of Bradbury's work is its frequent slippage from one medium to another. He will start with a screenplay, turn it into a short story, adapt it for stage, novelise it, on and on.

And on more than one occasion he has added music, or at least had a composer add music.

Now, with something as potentially light as Dandelion Wine, I can just about accept and understand why someone might want to create a musical. But I struggle with the idea of operatic renditions of works such as Leviathan '99 and Fahrenheit 451.

Which brings me to this odd little item: a German language operatic version of Fahrenheit 451, by Brenton Broadstock. If you get bored with the introduction, fast forward to about 1:30. That's where the drama begins. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bradbury Park

From Lake County Sun-News comes this story about the re-dedication of Ray Bradbury Park in Bradbury's hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. the re-dedication is scheduled for 11am on Saturday 27 June 2009.

I've never visited, but I blogged about the park a couple of years ago (click here) when discussing the relationship between the real Waukegan and the fictional Green Town, setting for several of Bradbury's books.

If you click here, you will be taken to a map of the park which is clickable - that is to say, click on parts of it to be shown photos of the details. Try it!

And you can learn more about Waukegan's parks from the Waukegan Park District.

Ray Bradbury Park was originally dedicated in 1990, and the dedication is marked with a plaque which references Bradbury's poem "Remembrance":

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inspired by Bradbury?

I'm constantly amazed at the places where Bradbury references turn up, and the range of creative works that owe something to Bradbury (whether explicitly acknowledged or not). In many cases, they are works I will never have the chance to experience firsthand. Example:

The Bird Machine. From what I can gather from this review, this is a small-scale but in its own way extravagant piece of theatre, with some points of similarity to a Bradbury story. The review doesn't name the source or inspiration, but I would imagine it's "The Flying Machine", a short story from The Golden Apples of the Sun.

Concrete Temple Theatre's own description of the production is here, and they have photos and video of the show. I just wish I could get there to see it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Unchanged Habits

The Ventura Country Reporter has just published a new interview with Bradbury, which shows his writing habits to be unchanged, despite his eighty-eight years. Mind you, you can't believe everything you read: this article claims that Bradbury still travels the world giving lectures. Not quite. He doesn't venture beyond Southern California these days, because of his health. Anyway, read the interview here.

Update: the New York Times features a similar (but better written, more quirky, more fun) article in its 19th June issue. I am told this was a page one story!

Here's a nice idea - and one I have used with my own Video & Film Production students on occasion: making a trailer for a book!

Digital Book Talk is a literacy scheme from the University of Central Florida. It has synopses and film trailers for lots of books. One such is this neat trailer for Fahrenheit 451, and another for The Martian Chronicles.

The Steve Canyon volume 2 DVD is now on release. This is the second collection of episodes from an old TV series. The significance for the Bradbury fan is that this volume includes the episode that Bradbury scripted, a Christmas tale called "The Gift".

Reviews of the DVD can be found at DVD Talk and Comic Mix.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


From the "right up my alley department": news of a new radio drama series on US public radio, which will begin with a dramatisation of Bradbury's story "It Burns Me Up". This is a tale from Bradbury's murder-mystery short story collection A Memory of Murder, the story told from the point-of-view of a corpse!

Details of the series are here.

Found in the blogosphere: Bradbury is a regionalist: an interesting blog post on why Bradbury can be seen not as an American writer, but as an Illinois writer.

...and some interesting observations on Fahrenheit 451 from this "e-zine for teens".

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bradbury in...Belgium!

I'm recently returned from Belgium, where I presented a paper at the "Science Fiction Across Media: Adaptation/Novelisation" conference. My paper, entitled "Adaptive Behaviours", was another in my series exploring ways in which Bradbury's prose fictions adapt to other media. This time I focused on the short story "A Sound of Thunder" and discussed key adaptations for TV and film, as well as various graphic adaptations. It was an elaboration of some ideas I first considered in this post.

Also presenting at the conference was Aristea Chryssohou of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who did an excellent analysis of Francois Truffaut's film version of Fahrenheit 451.

There were additional delights of being in Belgium, one of which was the opportunity to visit the iconic Atomium. Although this has no direct connection to Bradbury, there are certain thematic connections, which I hope to blog about soon.