Wednesday, December 21, 2022

New podcast episode: Ray Bradbury and Christmas!

Time for a new Bradbury 100 podcast episode - and because it's (nearly) Christmas, I thought I'd talk about Ray's use of Christmas in his stories and scripts.

The two stories that specifically reference Christmas are "The Gift" and "The Wish" - and there are two pieces of film/TV work which also mention Christmas: the Steve Canyon episode based on "The Gift"; and Ray's unlikely sequel to The Day The Earth Stood Still.

It's become a tradition that, every Christmas, I post the delightful Ren Wickes illustration for "The Gift" which appeared alongside the story when it was first published in Esquire magazine in 1952. So, here it is! (It should be up above - and if you click on it, it should embiggen.)

I hope you enjoy this Christmas episode - it's below, or you can find it using your podcast app. Join me in 2023 for more Bradbury 100 episodes!




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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

New podcast episode: Ray Bradbury and EC Comics

Time for a new episode of Bradbury 100!

This time I review the new book Home to Stay: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Comics Stories, and dig into Ray's connection with the famous EC Comics. Click here for a preview of the contents of Home to Stay, courtesy of publisher Fantagraphics.

Ordering links for Home to Stay: Amazon US - Amazon UK - publisher page.

In the episode, I also refer to Jerry Weist's Bradbury an Illustrated Life. You can find that one here: Amazon US - Amazon UK.

And learn about TheAutumn People here - and Tomorrow Midnight here.

You can find the old Ray Bradbury Comics in lots of places, such as this one.


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Friday, November 11, 2022

New podcast episode: Ray Bradbury's Dinosaur Tales

Time for another episode of Bradbury 100. This time I explore Ray's dinosaur stories - which he conveniently collected together under the title Dinosaur Tales!
This volume has "A Sound of Thunder", "The Fog Horn", "Tyrannosaurus Rex" and more. Especially valuable are the illustrations, provided by some of the leading artists of the SF/fantasy world.

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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Take Me To Your Reader - Something Wicked

I was invited to make a return visit to the Take Me To Your Reader podcast, to discuss Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

TMTYR deals with books and their adaptation to movies, TV and other media. On this occasion, what you might think is a simple process of adaptation (book ---> movie) turns out to be more complex, since Something Wicked actually began life as a screenplay, before becoming a book, and then being adapted for film.

Thanks to regulars Seth, Colin and James for inviting me back on!

Listen to the show here:


Friday, October 28, 2022

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - "Weir of Hermiston" Oddity

Here's an oddity, which I first wrote about on Facebook in 2014, but I don't believe I've ever commented on it here on Bradburymedia.

FAHRENHEIT 451 (Francois Truffaut, 1966): A dying man teaches a young boy the text of Weir of Hermiston by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of the most touching sequences of the film.
Although the viewer assumes that the text is accurate, the film actually uses a paraphrase of Stevenson, and the highly affecting final line is made up for the film:
"And he died as he thought he would, while the first snows of winter fell."
The paraphrase might be easily explained: Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard wrote the screenplay in French, and then had it translated into English; they may well have quoted Stevenson from a French-language source, and something was lost in translation. (This is conjecture on my part. I would love a French-speaking scholar to compare the original French screenplay and the contemporary (early 1960s) published French-language version of Weir of Hermiston.)
Ray Bradbury was so taken with the ending of the film, that he borrowed it for his own stage play version. And he borrowed the Weir of Hermiston scene from the film: Hermiston isn't mentioned in Ray's novel, but is quoted in the play, exactly as in the film. Ironically, the play misquotes exactly as the film does. How curious - especially for a work (Fahrenheit) whose logic depends on accurate oral reproduction of texts which have been physically destroyed...

It's been pointed out that the first section of the Hermiston dialogue in Fahrenheit 451 is, in fact, a direct quotation from Stevenson. But that leaves the final two lines - which are either made up, or are (at best) a paraphrase. Given that the first lines are a direct and accurate quotation, my conjecture above about something being lost in translation looks unlikely. Instead, it looks as if Truffaut was adapting Stevenson's words to fit the situation of the snowfall.
And the snowfall is known to have been accidental. Filming in England in (if I recall correctly) April, there was an unexpected and unseasonal snow shower. Ever the instinctive filmmaker, Truffaut took advantage of this opportunity to enhance the poignancy of the scene, with that line: "And he died as he thought he would, while the first snows of winter fell."

Curiouser and curiouser...

Thursday, October 20, 2022

New Podcast Episode: The Tragic Death of Ray Bradbury's Uncle Lester

Time for another new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast! And this time, it's something of a true crime mystery...

Several years ago, I mentioned on this blog that I would soon be publishing never-before-seen facts about the shocking murder of Lester Moberg, Ray's uncle, which happened when Ray was just twelve years old. Uncle Lester popped up in several of Ray's interview anecdotes, although Ray never wrote Lester into his fiction.

Somehow, time ticked by with me never quite getting round to writing the article. Until Bradbury 100 became a thing, and I figured that, one day, I'd probably talk about Uncle Lester on the pod.

Well, it was ninety years ago this week that Lester's life was brought to a sudden end, so this seems like a good time to tell all. Besides, it's spooky season, and what better way to celebrate than with a murder mystery?

Not much has been published previously about the murder of Lester Moberg. Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, merely says it was a random hold-up. But when I studied the transcript of the coroner's inquest (thanks to the Waukegan Historical Society, who have a copy in their Bradbury files) along with related documents, I began to sense that there was more to the story. The evidence is circumstantial, but I was able to put a suspect in the frame. Listen to the pod, and see what you think. But - as I warn near the beginning of the pod - do be warned that this is an unsolved case, so don't go expecting a definite resolution.

...and here's a short out-take: a little snippet of testimony which didn't make the final cut of the episode. In this clip, you'll hear what Lester's brother Philip had to say about Lester and his divorce:


Thursday, October 06, 2022

New Podcast Episode: Ray Bradbury's October

Specially for October, here's a new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast. I discuss The October Country, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Halloween Tree.

I cover the origins of each of these classics, including the peculiar way that both Something Wicked and The Halloween Tree started off as film projects before turning into the books we know and love.


In the episode, I mention other places where I discuss these works. Here are are some handy links to those:

You might also want to check out this previous October-themed episode of the podcast!


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Wednesday, October 05, 2022

October - Bradbury Month!

How can it be October already?

It's the month most associated with Ray Bradbury, so I thought I'd post links to some of my pages/posts related to Ray's "October" books. Starting with...

The October Country, the 1955 short story collection. Click here to read my potted history and review of the book - and click here to see my YouTube video about the book.

And coming soon is my next episode of the Bradbury 100 podcast, in which I discuss October Country, Something Wicked and The Halloween Tree. Watch this space!

Friday, September 23, 2022

New Podcast Episode - Zen in the Art of Writing

 Time for another new episode of my audio podcast, Bradbury 100.

This time I explore Ray's essay collection Zen in the Art of Writing. This gathers together his thoughts on the writing process - including his belief in allowing the unconscious mind to play the leading part in generating stories - with his recollections of writing his most famous works.

I'm joined via Zoom by Kim and Renee, whose wonderful Words to Write By podcast is putting all those how-to-write books to the test. They recently went chapter by chapter through Zen in the Art of Writing, and found much to admire in Ray's advice to writers.

I hit a couple of snags with the audio when putting this episode together, so I apologise for some variation in the sound quality.

Have you ever tried following Ray Bradbury's writing advice? If so, how did it go? Post a comment below to let me know!

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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Here We Go Again: The Halloween Tree Film Announced

 So there has been an announcement of a new Hollywood production of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree

My response:

1. I'll believe it when I see it.
2. Most announced Hollywood projects in development simply do not happen.***
3. At least this screenwriter is someone with a decent reputation.
4. Whether good or bad, the original book and Emmy-winning Hanna Barbera production (1993)will continue to exist.
5. If it turns out to be good, it boosts Ray's popularity and visibility.
6. If it turns out bad, it will be soon forgotten, but the book will still sell.
7. Don't hold your breath.

***We're still waiting for the previously announced Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes...

Monday, September 12, 2022

New Bradbury 100 podcast episode: "The Exiles"

Here's another new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast. It's a short episode, focusing on a single short story - although, as you will discover, it's really two or three different stories...

"The Exiles" started life as "The Mad Wizards of Mars", and you can easily find two or three different versions of the story. All of them are basically the same, but the characters - most of them based on real-life authors - are different between one version and the next.

To find out what the heck I'm talking about, listen to the pod!


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Monday, August 29, 2022

Dandelion Wine - live talk now available in audio and video

You are now spoiled for choice:

If you'd like to ctch up with my live episode of Bradbury 100, which streamed on Facebook Live on Ray's 102nd birthday, you can find an audio-only version on the podcast feed, and an audiovisual version on Youtube.

For convenience, both are provided below. You're welcome!

Youtube: click here


Monday, August 15, 2022

Return of the BRADBURY 100 Podcast!

My Bradbury 100 podcast started two years ago, as a way of celebrating the centenary of Ray Bradbury's birth.

Now, two years on, it's back - with a livestreamed episode on Facebook on Ray's birthday (22 August 2022), and with some "conventional" audio episodes on the regular podcast feed.

The livestreamed episode will be on Facebook (click here to be taken to the Facebook event).

The "conventional" episodes of the podcast will show up in your normal podcast app, and to launch this new season, I've made a short episode which trails these coming events. Please take a listen below (or in your podcast app).


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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Staying up to date with Bradbury 101 videos

The original idea for my Youtube series Bradbury 101 was to provide an introduction to Ray Bradbury, but over time I have also gone down some of the more obscure rabbit-holes of his work. It's been a while since I made any new episodes, but I hope to get back to making more in the coming months.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to catch up with what you may have missed, here's the story so far...


Episode 1 - Introduction to the series and to the works of Ray Bradbury



Episode 2 - Ray Bradbury's 'Lost' Book: Dark Carnival



Episode 3 - Confessions of a Bradbury Collector



Episode 4 - Stuck in Science Fiction: The Illustrated Man



Episode 5 - Ray Bradbury Makes the Mainstream: The Golden Apples of the Sun



Episode 6 - This is not a Novel: Fahrenheit 451



Episode 7 - The Unstoppable Re-Writer: The October Country



Bonus Episode - My discovery of the original cut of Something Wicked This Way Comes



Bonus Live Episode - A live episode of Bradbury 100 to celebrate Ray's 101st birthday



Bonus Live Talk- My illustrated talk on The Martian Chronicles at seventy



Bonus Live Talk - My illustrated talk on The Illustrated Man at seventy


The best way to never miss an episode is to subscribe for free on YouTube!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Phil talks about The Martian Chronicles - Continuum Drag podcast

I recently joined the team of the Continuum Drag podcast to discuss the 1980 TV miniseries of The Martian Chronicles. It was a lot of fun, especially since the regulars were watching the series with fresh eyes (whereas I was bringing baggage from having watched the series when it first went out).

Ray Bradbury himself said that this miniseries, starring Rock Hudson, was "boring". He got in trouble with NBC and Charles Fries Productions for this, but he wasn't wrong. Fries' lawyers, however, pointed out that Bradbury's contract forbade him from badmouthing the production...

Here's the podcast, where we're discussing episode 2 of the miniseries:

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Glimpses of Ray in Mythic Quest

There's a terrific episode of Apple TV's Mythic Quest set in the 1970s, where we see behind the scenes of a pulp magazine publisher. And who should be there, but one Ray Bradbury!

The episode, titled "Backstory!", is somehing of an origin story for recurring character C.W.Longbottom, normally played by F. Murray Abraham, but here played by Josh Brener. We learn that Longbottom was a talentless writer who only achieved any form of success because of his morally dubious use of a manuscript that has been improved by Isaac Asimov.

Asimov is a character in the drama, albeit with just a few lines. But Asimov's story function is decisive. He is played here, complete with hallmark mutton chops, by Chet Grissom.

But what of Bradbury? He appears fleetingly, as part of a meeting going on. The meeting participants? Asimov, Bradbury, and Ursula Le Guin!


Asimov, Le Guin and Bradbury confer


Ursula and Ray

Another view. I wonder what they were discussing...

"Backstory!" is a great episode, and works even if you are not familiar with Mythic Quest as a series, and even if you don't know the series regulars. It's really just a standalone story of three wannabe SF writers, each at a different stage of their writing journey. Their chief obstacle is a kind of John W. Campbell figure, played by Craig Mazin, who also wrote the episode. Mazin is best known as the Emmy Award-winning writer of Chernobyl.

"Ray" is on screen for just a fraction of a second, and while it seems unlikely that he would be in the offices of a New York pulp magazine at this stage of his career, his presence with Le Guin and Asimov gives the episode an odd air of authenticity.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Movies on Mars

 Here's a little curiosity that I've mentioned before, but now with added evidence:

In the 1980 TV miniseries of The Martian Chronicles, there is a brief scene of people coming out of (what I assume to be) a cinema. Either side of the door is a rather amateurish poster with the title The Silver Locusts. The artwork on the poster is taken from... the UK paperback of The Silver Locusts, which was the original UK title for... The Martian Chronicles.

How meta is that? People in MC going to watch a film about themselves!

I noticed this in 1980, when the show was first aired on British TV. But this was before VCRs, and the appearance of the artwork was so fleeting as to be unprovable. The commercial DVD release allowed the image to be paused, but it was rather muddy.

But thanks to Bluray, we can now get a closer look. So here is the proof:

Silver Locusts posters as the crowd emerges from the cinema.

UK paperback, 1970s. Artwork by Peter Goodfellow.

When the miniseries was released, UK publisher Granada decided to cash in by re-issuing The Silver Locusts as The Martian Chronicles.

In the same sequence, there are some other posters on display, but I haven't been able to figure out what they are. They're probably completely fictional, but who knows? What are we looking at here? mtext? Invasion?

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Phil guests on WORDS TO WRITE BY podcast

Words To Write By is a podcast for those interested in the craft of writing. Co-hosts Kim and Renee have set themselves the challenge of reading "how to..." books, the ones that claim to reveal the rules you have to follow, or the secrets that only a true writing guru can reveal.

Having progressed through John Gardner's The Art of Fiction (1982), the team are now ready to take heed of the advice of Ray Bradbury, as they tackle Ray's inspirational essay collection on writing, Zen in the Art of Writing.

In their latest podcast episode, they give their final thoughts on Gardner before introducing Zen - and they very kindly asked me to help with the introduction. Click the link below to find more, and to hear me opine on Ray's advice to writers.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

New Bradbury 100 podcast - Ray Bradbury's OTHER martian stories

In the latest Bradbury 100 podcast episode, I discuss Ray Bradbury's other martian stories - stories set on Mars which are not part of The Martian Chronicles.

These stories have only once been all collected together, and that was in the limited-edition book The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition (2009). I've mentioned this book before, and have also mentioned my love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, the book was a great idea, but on the other hand, it turned out to be far from "complete".

One section of that book is titled "the other martian tales of Ray Bradbury", and is based on a selection of stories originally collated by Marc Scott Zicree, writer of the famous Twilight Zone Companion. Zicree figured out which other Mars-related stories Bradbury wrote, and also dug around in Ray's archives to find any that remained unpublished. Zicree's proposed book didn't happen, but the selection of stories was absorbed into the Complete Edition. Actually, not everything Zicree collated ended up in the book; the editors of the Complete Edition decided to only include stories set on Mars, and to eliminate any that were set elsewhere. A reasonable choice... except not all of The Martian Chronicles is set on Mars... so they hadn't thought it through...

Here's the list of "other Mars stories" used in the so-called Complete Edition, which I work through in the podcast episode (UPDATE: I somehow missed "The Martian Ghosts" of this list - but I've added it now):

  1. The Lonely Ones
  2. The Exiles
  3. The One Who Waits
  4. The Disease
  5. Dead of Summer
  6. The Martian Ghosts
  7. Jemima True
  8. They All Had Grandfathers
  9. The Strawberry Window
  10. Way in the Middle of the Air (included in the "other" section, because the Complete Edition contains a version of The Martian Chronicles which deliberately omits this story)
  11. The Other Foot
  12. The Wheel
  13. The Love Affair
  14. The Marriage
  15. The Visitor
  16. The Lost City of Mars
  17. Holiday
  18. Payment in Full
  19. The Messiah
  20. Night Call, Collect (aka I, Mars)
  21. The Blue Bottle
  22. Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed (aka The Naming of Names)

Anyone who is expecting any major revelations in this list will be disappointed. It is mostly a list of (a) stories which are easily available in Bradbury's other books; (b) unfinished stories; and (c) tiny fragments and bridging material, pages or paragraphs left on the cutting-room floor. The only truly interesting find here is "They All Had Grandfathers".

Please listen to the episode, where I go through the intricacies of these stories, and explain how a couple of the fragments such as "The Wheel" and "The Disease" reveal something of Bradbury's process of assembling The Martian Chronicles. 



Thursday, January 06, 2022

New Bradbury 100 podcast episode - A Question of Style

Another new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast!

I've been putting off doing this one, but finally decided to bite the proverbial bullet.

What makes Ray Bradbury's writing distinctive? The usual answer is "style".

But what exactly is style? In the podcast I address this question while trying not to be too academic. Although some of my academic friends might quibble with my definitions and my argument...