Posted June 7, 2012 by Paula Hammond - Features Editor in Features
 
 

Ray Bradbury


There have been very few great authors. Fewer who were great and influential. And even fewer who were great, influential and well known. Ray Bradbury was one of that rare breed who trod the line – creating thought provoking literature which managed to seep, quietly, into every corner of popular culture.

There
have been very few great authors. Fewer who were great and influential. And
even fewer who were great, influential and well known. Ray Bradbury was one of
that rare breed who trod the line – creating thought provoking literature which
managed to seep, quietly, into every corner of popular culture.

Born in 1920, Bradbury caught the writing
bug after being taken to see a travelling fairground performer. The man – a
carnie called Mr Electro – would reputedly touch audience members with an
electrified sword, causing their hair to stand on end while crying out,
theatrically ‘Live Forever’. It was then, Bradbury would relate, that he
decided to live forever. Not in flesh and blood, but in print and ink: “I
wrote, I wrote, I wrote, at noon or 3am. So as not to be dead.” (The Illustrated Man)

In High School, Bradbury studied creative
writing but he always claimed that his ‘real’ education came from the local
libraries. It was there that soaked up the fantastical tales of Poe, Burrows,
Wells and Verne and there too – on a rented typewriter in the study room the
Powell Library – that he eventually wrote the novel which would be his homage
to books and bibliophiles, Fahrenheit
451
.

This seminal novel would later be turned
into possibly his most famous film, directed by François Truffau and starring Oskar
Werner
and Julie Christie.
However Bradbury was no stranger to the world of TV and film. It was in 1953
that cinemagoers got their first taste of a Bradbury-inspired script with It Came From Outer Space. The film was
adapted from Bradbury’s own story called Atomic
Monster
and it was the movie which, arguably, kick-started the whole ‘50s
‘mutant monster’ genre. Bradbury himself was a lifelong sci-fi fan and a
passionate advocate of the genre. “Science fiction”, he famously said, “is
central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science
fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.”

In 1969, The Illustrated Man starring Rod
Steiger
, was brought to the big screen. Although critics felt that
Bradbury’s portmanteau horror suffered from its movie make over, it has since
become something of a cult classic. The 1983 horror, Something Wicked This Way Comes (Main Picture), starring Jason Robards and Jonathan
Pryce
, fared rather better winning a
Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film
and a Best Picture nomination at the
Hugo Awards.

Bradbury was the archetypal ideas man and
his short stories quickly found him a firm fan base in Hollywood. Further film
adaptations followed thick and fast including, the three-part mini series The Martian Chronicles (1980), The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998), A Sound of Thunder (2005), and Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis (2008). He
also hosted his own hugely successful TV series, The Ray Bradbury Theater. In fact, during his career, around 35 of
his works were adapted for film or TV. An achievement which earned him a star
on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Radio
listeners loved his work too – and many of his fans felt that it was radio not
film, which was a more natural home for his elegant, thoughtful tales in which
people rather than SFX and big explosions mattered. Bradbury himself admitted
that he had always been a bit of a “hybrid author …completely in love with
movies, completely in love with theatre … completely in love with
libraries.” Unable to ever abandon
one love in favour of another.

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury wrote:
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies … A child or a book or a
painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden
planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go
when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted,
you’re there. “ The much-loved author died on June 5th after a long illness but
will be remembered, as he always wished, as author, screen writer, and
passionate advocate of life and living it to the full.


Paula Hammond - Features Editor

 
Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com