Monday, March 30, 2009

Time to confer...

I recently returned from Orlando, Florida, where I presented at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. The conference theme was "Time and the Fantastic", and my paper was on Ray Bradbury's use of time.

Before writing the paper, I doodled a spider diagram containing as many Bradbury stories I could think of which had a significant, fantastical use of time. Every couple of days I would remember another story with a time theme and add to my arachnid scrawl.

From the doodle, I eventually chose to focus on four major recurring uses of time in Bradbury stories:

  • SF-style time travel (as in "A Sound of Thunder" and "The Fox in the Forest"
  • Time travel in service of wish-fulfillment (as in "The Kilimanjaro Device")
  • Fantastic evocation of the past (as in "A Scent of Sarsaparilla")
  • Encounters with the younger or older self (as in "A Touch of Petulance", and the stage play of Dandelion Wine
Of course, by choosing this topic I was opening one enormous can of worms...nearly every Bradbury story makes use of time in some fantastical way. However, it has given me plenty of material for future study and has already suggested further papers.

Speaking of which, I have another paper to present at "SF Across Media", a conference to be held at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Fortunately, the conference is in English - my Flemish isn't up to much!

In this paper, I will be looking at adaptations of "A Sound of Thunder" in various media.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bradbury Rare TV

A very rare piece of television created by Ray Bradbury has been announced for DVD release.

In the 1950s, Bradbury scripted a single episode of Steve Canyon, a series based on the comic strip created by Milton Caniff. Now, by arrangement with the Caniff estate, a second DVD collection of episodes is to be released - including Bradbury's episode, entitled "The Gift".

For my (rather brief) page on Steve Canyon, click here.

For the official news of the release, click here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

And The Bradbury Award Goes To...

The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) have announced that the 2009 recipient of the Ray Bradbury Award will be Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. The award is given for outstanding work in a dramatic medium.

Whedon is quoted as saying:

Like everyone who picks up a pen, I was a rabid Bradbury fan and as greatly influenced by him as any other writer I read. To receive the award named for him is an honor I'd not dreamed of. In my defense, it didn't exist back then. What did exist were the very lovely, very twisted and very human stories that warped my impressionable mind, and that I have tried, in whatever medium they will let me, to measure up to.

The full story is on the SWFA website, here. The award will be presented at the annual Nebula Awards bash in April.

Reviews of Bradbury's latest book We'll Always Have Paris are popping up around the place. I haven't had time to read the book yet myself, but I'm encouraged to see some positive press being received for this volume. See what the Los Angeles Times has to say here. And the Toledo Blade here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Ripples travel at their own speed, and those emanating in the US can take a while to cross the pond to the UK. Which is my excuse for not knowing sooner about The Ripple Effect, a literacy initiative in Richmond, Indiana. Earlier this month there was a staging of Bradbury's stage version of Fahrenheit 451, as this is one of the books Ripple Effect has chosen for its 2009 initiatives. Its website has a few useful links and articles about Bradbury, the role of dystopian fiction, and other related topics.

As a lecturer in film production, I was particularly interested in the "Visions of the Future" film competition which invites people to make their own utopian or dystopian film.

There is another competition inspired by F451 in Bradbury's home town: Waukegan Public Libraries is running its 25th Annual Ray Bradbury Contest. Previously a writing contest, this year the competition embraces mutlimedia submissions. Full details available here.

Speaking of F451, Kevin Cowherd of the Baltimore Sun suggests F451 as ideal winter reading. All those flames you see, guaranteed to melt away the snow and ice. Read his amusing and well informed article here.

And don't forget that the National Endowment for the Arts' "The Big Read" programme has a wealth of F451 resources, including a twenty-minute radio show about the book. The site also now features two versions of a superb film profiling Bradbury, directed by Lawrence Bridges. I first saw the short version previewed at the Eaton Conference in May 2008 - in this version Ray comes across as energetic, passionate, humorous. The longer version (approximately twenty minutes) gives a more detailed biography of Bradbury, but still entirely in Bradbury's own words. Bradbury's advancing age and declining health have sometimes diminished his persuasiveness as a speaker, but both versions of this film manage to restore him to his peak. I can't help thinking that Mr B must have been exhausted when the interviews were over. Direct access to the two versions of the film is here.

Nothing to do with F451, but relevant to the idea of "visions of the future": What does Ray Bradbury Theatre have in common with Blade Runner and Pushing Daisies? The answer is the Bradbury Building, an architectural icon which has found a remarkable life for itself in science fiction and fantasy film and television. Here is a superb illustrated article that catalogues all the major appearances of the building which, incidentally, is NOT named after Ray Bradbury.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Browsing Books

I found time to add to the main part of my site - I now have a page for We'll Always Have Paris, Bradbury's latest collection of new short stories. And thanks to HarperCollins, I can now offer a "browse inside" facility for this and some other books on my own site. Take a look below.

I also have a page for Masks, Gauntlet Press's latest effort in what can best described as Bradburyan archaeology. It's what they do best, in my view: digging into Bradbury's filing cabinets for abandoned works, finding the off-cuts and discards, and then attempting to make some sort of sense out of them. Of course, it's really the doing of Bradbury's master bibliographer Donn Albright, all watched by the scholarly eye of Eller and Touponce.

And now, have a good browse: