Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ray Bradbury's Christmas Gift

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.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Signed by Ray

Given that Ray Bradbury spent so many hours signing books, some people say that an unsigned Bradbury is worth more than a signed one. I've never been into collecting signed items, but I do have a few things signed by Ray. Here's a couple of them:

The typical Bradbury declaration "Onward!" on a paperback copy of The Cat's Pajamas. And a simple "Love!" on a postcard from one of his stage plays. It was partly because of this card that I knew the name Alan Neal Hubbs. When I met Alan a few years later, he was astonished that anyone from the UK had ever heard of him.

Somewhere, I believe I have another signed item, where Ray wrote one of his other declarations, the odd "Mad love!" - which I have always assumed was inspired by the Peter Lorre film.


Friday, December 20, 2013


As Harry Hill might say:

Now, I like Ray Bradbury. And I like Alfred Hitchcock. But which is better? There's only one way to find out: fight!

That seems to be the concept behind issue 45 of the periodical McSweeney's. The explanation behind it all is, apparently, that this issue reprints various stories taken from short story anthologies edited by Bradbury and Hitchcock.

In Bradbury's long career, he only ever edited two published anthologies: Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow (1952) and The Circus of Dr Lao and Other Improbable Stories (1956).

And in his long career, Hitchcock edited... probably no books at all. He was named as editor on a lengthy series of paperback anthologies, with titles such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories My Mother Never Told Me, but it is almost certain that these were ghost-edited by others. Robert Arthur was responsible for the first ones, and other ghosts probably followed in his footsteps. There's a running thread on this topic, with lots of cover photos, here.

So which is better? A Bradbury anthology or a Hitchcock anthology?  Buy McSweeney's 45 to find out...