Monday, November 3, 2014

Today Brandon Engel remembers legendary writer Ray Bradbury for the magician he was

Today Brandon Engel is remembering Ray Bradbury. If you're a fan of the late science-fiction great, please tell us your favorite Ray Bradbury story in the comments below. And also, please follow @BrandonEngel2 on twitter so you can network with him.
Wicked Reading: Remembering Ray Bradbury
When Blackstone the Magician visited Waukegan, Illinois in 1927, before it multiplied into a metropolis of 90,000, he met there a seven-year-old black-haired boy named Ray Douglas Bradbury. Seventy-five years later, a gray-haired Bradbury would write, “I decided at that time also that I wanted to grow up to become a magician.” And he did, in a way. He became an accomplished horror and mystery fiction writer of the 1950's, his work an unrelenting commentary on Cold War paranoia, and he remains one of the most celebrated American authors of his century.
The Halloween Tree
Pipkin is kidnapped. His eight friends must follow Mr. Moundshroud around the world, to the mummy tombs of Egypt and the gargoyles of Notre Dame, to learn the history of Halloween and, in doing so, save Pipkin. Begun as a screenplay for a movie that was never made (although a televised animated special was made decades later) and published as a refinished young adult book, The Halloween Tree won an Emmy Award for its gothic spunk. Like James Michener, Bradbury educated as he wrote, blending challenges of friendship with dark druids and gaping jack-o-lanterns.
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 was written on a rented UCLA typewriter for $9.80. It was composed in two drafts across two 9-day periods. Set in a dystopian future, the story centers around Guy Montag, a fireman whose primary job is burning books. His wife, addicted to opioid pills, intoxicated by state-sanctioned entertainment, betrays Guy when he illegally peers into the book, Dover Beach, igniting a vicious manhunt. Bradbury’s award-winning, savage prophecy was written in the era of rabid McCarthyism. “I wrote this book at a time when I was worried about the way things were going in this country,” said Bradbury, who lived to see his book both censored and expunged by fearful parents and teachers.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show visit Green Town, and two 13-year-old friends, William Halloway and Jim Nightshade, soon grow to fear the sinister carousel and supernatural Mirror Maze. Ray Bradbury’s seminal work puts a new spin on the sage advice, “Be careful what you wish for.” Unlike hollow gore, his hypnotic tale tackles themes of transition to adulthood and good versus evil.
The Martian Chronicles
Bradbury called it a “half-cousin to a novel.” Published in 1950, the book contains 28 stories with interstitial vignettes about the apocalypse of Earth and the ensuing colonization of Mars. Many science-fiction authors projected their imaginations onto Mars in the 1950s, but Bradbury was one of the few who followed people, not machines, and who tackled themes of imperialism and Manifest Destiny. “There Will Come Soft Rains” is the penultimate story in The Martian Chronicles. A secret homage to Sara Teasdale’s poem of the same name, Bradbury tells the biography of an automated house made empty by global nuclear fallout. Bradbury’s horror is in his prose, the tragedy set offstage. And it’s all the more eerie that home automation is now authentically part of the fiber of modern life (more details here). The short story is a master compilation of symbolism, allegory and personification, and is notable for its silent warning to 1950’s warhawks about the hazards of nuclear warfare.  Ray Bradbury considered himself more than a science fiction and mystery writer. He was a magician, too. “People call me a science fiction writer, but I don't think that's quite true. I think that I'm a magician who is capable of making things appear and disappear right in front of you and you don't know how it happened.”


So I think I'll kick start the comments with this: My favorite Ray Bradbury story is "All Summer in a Day." It takes place on Venus, not Mars and it's quite good. If you're looking for a short story that will whisk you away for an hour, I recommend it highly.


  1. That's probably why I liked Bradbury - he focused on people, not machines.

  2. LOVE Bradbury. He's one of my biggest influences for sure. Fahrenheit 451 was the first book of his I read, so it sticks in my head as one of my favorites.

    His book on writing - Zen in the Art of Writing - is also a must-have for writers.

  3. I haven't read anything by Bradbury, but I know he's a brilliant writer. Shame on me!

  4. I LOVE Ray Bradbury. You spoke for me in this post. I did not know that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rented typewriter. And that it was written in two drafts across two 9-day periods. UNBELIEVABLE! WOW. That's MY favorite Bradbury book.

    I'm doing NaNo, Michael. I've been writing 5000 words a day. Not as great as Bradbury, but pretty good don't you think?

    Great post.

  5. I haven't read any of his books but I sure do like the sound of the Martian chronicles. Also, I have an hour sometime in the near future so I'll try to read the Venus tale too.

  6. Oh! I read All Summer in a Day years ago! It was such a great read. For a moment I thought I read nothing by Ray B. Thanks for proving me wrong Mike.

  7. It's not a new review. Do a search, and it will come up.

  8. Kinda like, "do or do not, there is no try." I was so sad when he passed.

  9. I was introduced to Bradbury by my 8th grade English teacher. He was a fan. We read the one, I think it was called "The Pedestrian". About a guy out for his nightly walk, but it went horribly wrong.

  10. I've never read any of his works

  11. These are all great ones. I also liked "The Illustrated Man" could not put it down.

  12. I always found it interesting that this great writer never learned how to drive. He could navigate the fast lanes of imagination but he didn't drive a car.

  13. Something Wicked is the one I've liked best. He wrote a dismal episode of The Twilight Zone that was far too schmatltzy. BTW, in Los Alamos, NM there's a Bradbury science museum. I didn't go there, but I passed by it.

  14. I feel like such a twit for not having read Bradbury. I mean, just a couple of his short stories, and of course I saw the classic 451 film. One of the most powerful moments in the film was at the beginning when all of the credits are spoken, because no reading is allowed--great touch!

    I definitely want to read Something Wicked, Summer Day, and the Halloween Tree. What a genius he was.