Monday, April 16, 2007

Pulitzer Surprise

Ray Bradbury adds another award to his collection this year, as the Pulitzer Prize Committee have just given him a Special Citation. The official press release declares:

A Special Citation to Ray Bradbury for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential
career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy."

A full list of prize winners can be viewed at the official Pulitzer site.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Editing Ray Bradbury

Ever wondered what's involved in establishing the definitive version of a text, when that text has passed through a series of editorial hands? Professor Jon Eller specialises in this field, and has made substantial contributions to Bradbury scholarship.

Jon's contribution to Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction (co authored with Bill Touponce; Kent State University Press, 2004) was primarily in tracing the textual history of Bradbury's major works, revealing for the first time the extent of Bradbury's continual re-writing and re-development of his fiction.

Jon also edited the handsome Gauntlet Press edition of The Halloween Tree, which presented several variant texts of Bradbury's short novel alongside his award-winning teleplay version.

At the end of April, Gauntlet should be issuing Match to Flame. This volume, edited by Donn Albright, traces the roots of Fahrenheit 451. Jon has edited and annotated the texts presented in this volume.

Jon recently gave an account of his work editing Bradbury in a lecture at Indiana University. A video of the lecture (lasting just under an hour) is available here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I'm currently researching adaptations of three Bradbury stories: "Mars is Heaven!", "Zero Hour" and "The Veldt". It's for a paper I'm preparing to deliver at a conference in July.

I've chosen these particular stories because they seem to be recurringly popular, with repeated adaptations for radio and television.

"Mars is Heaven" is an interesting case because Bradbury himself has adapted it on more than one occasion. The original short story appeared in Planet Stories in 1948. Bradbury then converted it into "The Third Expedition", a chapter of his novelised story cycle The Martian Chronicles. In the 1960s he wrote the first of several screenplays of the Chronicles, and in the 1970s the stage play version. And in the 1980s he wrote a teleplay for Ray Bradbury Theater.

The story is unusual, in that it combines the small-town USA sensibilities of some of his other work (Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes) with a Martian setting.

Listening to various radio adaptations, I have been intrigued that Ernest Kinoy's 1950s Dimension X/X Minus One script uses a rooster as the first signifier that the Earthmen might still be on Earth rather than on Mars. This element isn't present in Bradbury's short story, nor in The Martian Chronicles. However, in Bradbury's 1980s teleplay for Ray Bradbury Theater there's that rooster again. Has Bradbury borrowed from Kinoy? Or was Kinoy working from a different draft of Bradbury's story?