Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Bottles, Vintage Wine...

The long-running audio drama version of The Twilight Zone will shortly feature a dramatisation of "I Sing the Body Electric!", the only episode of the original TV series to be scripted by Ray Bradbury. According to the TZ Radio Drama blog, Dennis Etchison has written the new version to take into account not just the original episode, but some of Bradbury's ideas which didn't make it to screen.

"I Sing..." is actually one of the strangest items in Bradbury's back catalogue. The short story is quite well known - from the eponymous short story collection first published in 1969 - but not many people know that the story first saw light of day as the Twilight Zone episode, which Bradbury scripted c.1960. This puts "I Sing..." in the same category as The Halloween Tree and Something Wicked This Way Comes: a Bradbury media creation which only later became a literary text.

Here's an item to file under "wish I'd been there" heading: on 17 March in Fresno, California, there was a two-day symposium on Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The event tied in with the Big Read campaign. The event was moderated by writer and academic Howard V. Hendrix, who I met in 2008 at the Eaton Conference where we both presenting papers on Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Fresno seems quite keen on F451...

It looks as if the ghastly cover of The Stories of Ray Bradbury, in print in hardcover from Knopf since 1980, is soon to vanish, replaced by this new cover with the Everyman label. As far as I know, this is all that's changed about the book, apart from (possibly) a new introduction. The publisher's page for this new edition is here.

To tie in with the new edition, the Wall Street Journal has a new interview with Ray.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Miscellanea

I've been away from the blog for a while, as I have been bogged down with writing. In February I turned in a paper for a book, a substantially re-written version of a paper I originally presented at the 2008 Eaton Conference at University of California, Riverside. It's about the Martian Chronicles story "And The Moon Be Still As Bright" in its various media incarnations. As part of my research, I thought I should go back to the original story, so I bought the 1948 issues of Thrilling Wonder Stories in which it appears. The book is likely to be called Chronicling Mars, and is being edited by George Slusser, Eric Rabkin and Howard V. Hendrix. I have no publication details just yet, but I expect that it will be released some time in 2010.

Immediately after finishing that paper, I started on another. This one is looking at images in selected Bradbury short stories. I feel the need to stop, and emphasise that I said IMAGES rather than IMAGERY. By which I mean that the paper looks at Bradbury's use of PICTURES such as photos, paintings and tattoos.

While I've been busy with that, a few Bradbury-related items have come to my attention which I haven't yet flagged up. So, by way of catching up with the backlog...

From Macmillan books comes a PDF teacher's guide to accompany the new graphic novel version of Fahrenheit 451. Just because Bradbury's novel has turned into a comic, it doesn't mean it can't still be used in the classroom!

I don't know what the provenance is of this next item, but it seems to be a transcript of a speech or presentation that Bradbury gave in 1969. It is held on the website of Caltech, but whether that means Bradbury delivered the presentation there I simply don't know. It has some nice photos of Ray in his ice-cream suit doing his inspirational speaker bit. I don't think it really contains anything I haven't read elsewhere, but it is clearly from the time of the first moon landing, so it has certain historical charm. See for yourself, here.

I noticed in the knew Knopf catalogue that there is a new edition of The Stories of Ray Bradbury. No new content (although this one has an introduction that I don't recall seeing in the original edition), but a new cover - not the best I have ever seen, but a bit more modern than the original design that seems to have remained in print since the 1980s. The Knopf catalogue is here, Bradbury is on page 135.

Finally, from Halloween 2007 comes LAWP Newsflash - a publication of the Los Angeles Writing Project. On page 3 is the story of one person's encounter with Ray Bradbury.