Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Whitman Honour for Bradbury

The only direct connection I know between Ray Bradbury and Walt Whitman is Bradbury's borrowing of Whitman's title "I Sing the Body Electric". Bradbury's short story of that title, dealing with an android grandmother, is of course titled in reference to Whitman's poem.

Now there is another connection. Among Bradbury's countless awards there is now a Champion of Literacy award, which was presented to him at the 2nd Annual Walt Whitman Birthplace Association's Benefit for Literacy Gala held at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York. Of course, Bradbury wasn't there in person, but he gave his thanks via a pre-recorded acceptance speech.

The full story is here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Censoring F451

That terrific blog AWFUL LIBRARY BOOKS has a recent post on the bowdlerised edition of Fahrenheit 451 that persisted through much of the 1960s and 1970s - until Bradbury was alerted to it and insisted on his correct text being reinstated.

Read all about it, with illustrations, here.

Bradbury later wrote a "coda" to Fahrenheit 451 in which he railed against petty (and not so petty) censorship.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

True to Type

We all know about Ray Bradbury's first typewriter. One of those toy dial devices, where you painstakingly line up a pointer with the letter you want to print. This isn't the exact model, but I believe Ray's is something like this:

He still owns the Deluxe Toy Dial machine, but probably hasn't written with it for over seventy years. Of course, Ray didn't ever do any professional work with this device, but he supposedly wrote an Edgar Rice Burroughs-inspired novel on it when still at a tender young age. In later years he progressed to more sophisticated machineries, some of them electrical.

And has even been known to Skype:

All right, he has some help when he does this, but it proves he's not quite the luddite some people would have you believe.

What of other writers? Where did they first tap out their tales?

Harlan Ellison began on something rather more professional than Bradbury: a portable Remington, bought for him by his mother when he was fifteen years old. He wrote his earliest stories on this machine, and produced his fanzine Dimensions on it up to about 1954.

Harlan is now looking to sell this historic item, and the current asking price is a sweet $40,000. In case you doubt the significance of Ellison the writer, I remind you that this man has won (deep breath):

  • 8-and-a-half Hugo Awards from the World Science Fiction Convention
  • 3 Nebula Awards from the Science Fiction Writers of America
  • 5 Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers' Association
  • 2 Edgar Awards from the Mytery Writers of America
  • a George Melies Award
  • a Silver Pen Award for Journalism
  • 4 Writers Guild of America Awards for screenwriting

He is, without doubt, one of the most significant 20th-century American writers of the literature of the fantastic. That old Remington may not be the machine upon which he wrote of the Harlequin, or Jeffty, or Vic & Blood; but it's the machine that first allowed him to unleash his astonishing literary muse.

Have a spare 40k? What a magnificent Christmas gift this would make:

Read more about Harlan and his typewriter at the official Harlan's Typewriter For Sale site.