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!

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!


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).


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!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Staying up to date with the Bradbury 100 podcast


To make it easier for you to discover my Bradbury 100 podcast, you'll periodically see this page, which gathers all the episodes and shows together.

Bonus Video episode - video of my public lecture on The Illustrated Man at seventy (extended, lavishly illustrated video version of podcast episode 27)

Bonus Video Episode -  video of my public lecture on The Martian Chronicles at seventy (extended, lavishly illustrated video version of part of podcast episode 17)

Bonus LIVE Episode - writer Steven Paul Leiva returns as we celebrate Ray's 101st birthday 

Episode 30 - Ray Bradbury's other Mars stories

Episode 29 - Ray Bradbury and the question of "style"

Episode 28 - the best Martian Chronicles films never made

Episode 27 - The Illustrated Man at Seventy (also available in extended, illustrated, video form - see Bonus Video episodes at the top of this list)

Episode 26 - tracking down "The Lonely One"

Episode 25 - with Bradbury scholar Phil Nichols!

Episode 24 - with writer and Bradbury scholar Steve Gronert Ellerhoff

Episode 23 - with writer and actor David J. Loftus

Episode 22 - with filmmaker and visual effects artist Christopher Cooksey

Episode 21 - with Russian author Pavel Gubarev, webmaster of the Russian Ray Bradbury website

Episode 20 - April 2021 update

Episode 19 - introducing my new podcast, Science Fiction 101!

Episode 18 - with science fiction writer and scholar Howard V. Hendrix, on Bradbury's influence and legacy

Episode 17 - with highlights from two centenary events: Bradbury 100 Live and The Martian Chronicles at Seventy (both of these events are also available in extended video form - see Bonus Video episodes at the top of this list)

Episode 16 - with writer and friend of Ray, Gregory Miller

Episode 15 - with Emmy-winning actor Bill Oberst Jr, who appears as Ray in a one-person show

Episode 14 - with writer and scholar Jeffrey Kahan on how Bradbury's fiction works

Episode 13 - with storyteller Megan Wells on performing Bradbury's stories and characters

Episode 12 - with writer/director/actor Jerry Robbins, who adapted many Bradbury works for Colonial Radio Theater

Episode 11 - with writer and editor Charles Ardai, who edited the new Bradbury crime story collection Killer, Come Back To Me

Episode 10 - with Ray Bradbury Theatre composer John Massari

Episode 9 - with scholar Miranda Corcoran, talking about Ray's "Elliott family"

Episode 8  - the second part of my interview with award-winning dramatist Brian Sibley, talking mostly about adapting Bradbury for radio

Episode 7 - with writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley, talking mostly about Disney

Episode 6 - continuing my interview with Jonathan R. Eller, Bradbury biographer and scholar

Episode 5 - with Jonathan R. Eller, Bradbury biographer, whose latest book Bradbury Beyond Apollo completes his biographical trilogy

Episode 4 - with photographer Elizabeth Nahum-Albright, who has a current exhibition on Ray Bradbury's house

Episode 3 - with Sandy Petroshius of the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum

Episode 2 - with Jason Aukerman of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies

Episode 1 - with author Steven Paul Leiva, creator of Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles


The best way to never miss an episode is to subscribe for free with your podcast app/service of choice!

And you can also follow Bradbury 100 on Facebook.

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...


Sunday, January 02, 2022

A Plethora of Pods...

Happy New Year - although I'm acutely aware that 2022 is the year in which the events of Soylent Green take place...

As the new year begins, you can catch me on three different podcasts. Yikes! You can currently hear me on:

  • Bradbury 100 - talking about Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles screenplays, and on...
  • Science Fiction 101 - reviewing the Christmas 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, and on...
  • Hugos There (where I discuss Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise with host Seth Heasley)