Monday, September 30, 2013

Ray Bradbury Library Dedication

Last Monday saw the dedication of the Los Angeles Palms-Rancho Park Library in honour of Ray Bradbury. In attendance for the event were Steven Paul Leiva, three of Ray's daughters (Susan, Bettina and Ramona), Harlan Ellison and George Clayton Johnson.

Also present were many friends and fans of Bradbury (and Harlan and George) with their many cameras, making this one of the best-documented of Bradbury events. I was not present myself (my excuse being that I live on a different continent...) but John King Tarpinian provides a full account of  the day at File 770.

After the formal dedication, Leiva, Ellison and Johnson held a discussion of their memories of Bradbury. Steven spoke of his professional relationship with Ray, which began with their work on the abortive attempt to make a film of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo (a film was eventually made, but without Bradbury's screenplay). Harlan spoke of how he and Ray would argue good-naturedly over their entirely opposing view of how the world is. George spoke of how he was always in awe of Ray's talent and generosity.

The whole discussion is preserved on video, on Harlan's Youtube Channel and also in this recording from Daniel Lambert. Although the Lambert version has a shorter running time, it does include a few additional minutes at the end of the panel which are omitted from the Harlan Channel version.

 Library poster for the event

Harlan with a school group before the discussion panel

The panel discussion was held in a room which had already been dedicated to Bradbury some years ago

Steven Leiva, Harlan Ellison, George Clayton Johnson

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Harlan demonstrates the correct way to sign one's books - after hilariously describing Bradbury's insistence on using a thick marker pen for his book signings

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Book about FAHRENHEIT 451 - table of contents

I've been commissioned to write a chapter for the forthcoming Salem Press volume about Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

The book, edited by Rafeeq McGiveron, is part of Salem's extensive Critical Insights series, which encompasses book-length studies of major authors and major novels. The books are a little bit pricey for the average reader, but are aimed primarily at colleges, schools and libraries.

The contents of the Fahrenheit 451 volume are still tentative, but Rafeeq is aiming to include chapters by the following scholars:

My chapter, titled "Classics Cut to Fit", will look at media adaptations of F451, with most attention going to Francois Truffaut's 1966 film version, and to Bradbury's own stage play adaptation.

The book is due for release (somewhat optimistically in my view, but we'll see!) in November. The publisher's official page is here, and more detail of the proposed chapter titles are on Rafeeq's personal website here.

Monday, September 09, 2013

New Book: SF Across Media

At long last, we have a publication date for a book containing one of my essays. Science Fiction Across Media: Adaptation/Novelization is due out on 16th September 2013. The book originated in the 2009 conference of the same name, which was held at the University of Leuven, Belgium.

My chapter is about Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder" and the ways it has been treated in difference media adaptations. I wrote it so long ago that I can barely remember what it's about (and so long ago that I will probably cringe at some of the things I say in it). I do recall that I refer to the story; to Bradbury's own TV dramatisation of the story; to Peter Hyams' disappointing film expansion of the story; and to several illustrators' treatment of the story's imagery.

Interestingly, the book's editors (Thomas Van Parys and I.Q.Hunter) or publishers (Gylphi Press) have chosen to use another Bradbury adaptation to illustrate the cover: Fahrenheit 451. It shows Cyril Cusack as Fire Chief Beatty warming his hands over some burning books while Oskar Werner looks on.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013)

I just heard that Fred Pohl has passed away. He was a major figure in twentieth-century American SF, as editor, agent, novelist and short-story writer. He edited pulp-magazines before the Second World War, rubbing shoulders with other founding figures of the genre as we know it today. He wrote satirical novels and short stories in collaboration with C.M. Kornbluth in the 1950s. He edited Galaxy magazine in the 1960s. In the 1970s he had what for many people would be a late-career flourish with a string of award-winning novels such as Gateway, Man Plus (probably my favourite of his works) and Jem.

But that late-career flourish in his 50s turned out to be mid-career, as he continued working right through to his 90s. His authobiography, The Way The Future Was, consequently turns out to be a rather incomplete work as it was published in 1978 when Fred was a mere 58 years old! In recent years, he effectively extended the book by becoming a prolific blogger with his The Way The Future Blogs.

I met Fred in 2008 at the Eaton Conference in Riverside, California. He appeared on a panel with guest of honour Ray Bradbury. I had a chance to talk to him briefly about his work, telling him that I had re-read Man Plus on the flight from the UK, and found that it held up well for a thirty-year-old book. I have a few photos from the event, including one of me talking to Fred, but my favourite is this shot of him looking pensive. In the background, Larry Niven (standing) is sharing a joke with Ray Bradbury; and further back is SF scholar Eric Rabkin (seated), talking to Fred's wife Elizabeth Anne Hull.