Monday, February 17, 2020

The Martian Chronicles revisited?

According to The Illuminerdi, a new screen adaptation of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is in development. As usual with such announcements, I caution against getting too excited: "in development" just means someone is signed up to write a script or treatment. Whether said script ever goes into production is another matter entirely.

The new, big name atached to the project is James Gunn, filmmaker of considerable talent - and not a little controversy. In 2018 he was fired by Disney when some decade-old tweets came to light which showed poor judgment and poor taste. (He was later re-hired when Gunn apologised and recanted; and when the unearthing of the old tweets was found to be the work of alt-right activists.)

The bigger picture is that The Martian Chronicles spent most of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s "in development". Back in the 1950s, Ray Bradbury and Kirk Douglas tried to get the Chronicles onto TV and then into film, with scripts and treatments by Ray. Then in the 1960s, he worked with Alan J. Pakula and Robert Mulligan on a film version. None of these came to anything. The Martian Chronicles did eventually get onto the screen in the late 1970s/early 1980s, in the wake of (a) the unexpected global success of Star Wars and (b) the unexpected stage success in Los Angeles of Ray's theatrical production of the Chronicles.

After the critical flop of the 1980 TV miniseries version of The Martian Chronicles, Ray adapted various of the constituent stories of his book as episodes of his TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater. And then attempted, yet again, to get The Martian Chronicles on the big screen, with his own screenplay adaptation. Various attempts were made through the 1990s and early 2000s.

So the latest news is actually nothing new. Once again, a big Hollywood name is attached, but we've seen this all before. Whatever happened to the remakes of The Illustrated Man and Something Wicked This Way Comes? It is Hollywood's way to spend a lot of time (and sometimes money, too) on development, but somehow never quite get to an end product.

I hope things will turn out differently this time. It would be a nice way to celebrate the Bradbury Centenary, and the seventieth anniversary of The Martian Chronicles book. But don't hold your breath!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The official Ray Bradbury website

In case you haven't visited it recently, please note that the official Ray Bradbury website is now under new management, and the old site has been completely replaced.

The new-look site has some excellent text content, mostly supplied by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. There are also some fascinating images, some never published before.

The new site keeps a link to the previous discussion board, which is the only facet of the old site to be retained. And it carries a Centennial page which list all the Bradbury-related events due to take place in 2020.

I was given a sneak preview of the site a few weeks ago, when I was invited to comment on the content. I found very little to criticise, but lots to like. But now it's publicly available.View the new site here: