Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Becoming Ray Bradbury

The following Ray Bradbury quote was part of an interview in the now defunct "Weekly Alibi", September 27, 1999. 

         First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451 based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martiain Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time—because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.

This is a small look at how Ray Douglas Bradbury, born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, morphed into Ray Bradbury "Greek Myth" maker.

Above is three-years-old Ray Douglas Bradbury.

Apparently his mother, Esther Bradbury, a Swedish immigrant, loved the screen presence of Douglas Fairbanks, and the actors first name became the source of her son's middle name. The boy's father, Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, was of English ancestry and worked as a power and telephone lineman.

Should the reader not be familiar with Ray's hometown of Waukegan, Illinois? I would ask you if you've read "Dandelion Wine", "Something Wicked This Why Comes", or "Farewell Summer"?  Ray Bradbury turned his home town into "Green Town, Illinois", as illustrated by him in the following 1950 sketch of "Green Town" you could compare with "Waukegan" where his original home was located.

In 1932, 12-years-old, Ray Douglas Bradbury, had relocated with his family for their second one-year stay in Tucson, Arizona. At that time he attended his second junior high school, "Roskruge", during the families first year in Tucson, 1929, he attended, "Amphi Junior High".

According to interviewer Sam Weller in a "Slate Magazine" article, dated June 6, 2012, one-day after Ray Bradbury passed away:


Ray, who grew up loving carnivals and the circus, told Weller:

I suppose the most important memory is of Mr. Electrico. On Labor Day weekend, 1932, when I was twelve years old, he came to my hometown with the Dill Brothers…. He was a performer sitting in an electric chair and a stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end. I sat below, in the front row, and he reached down with a flaming sword full of electricity and he tapped me on both shoulders and then the tip of my nose and he cried, 'Live, forever!' And I thought, 'God, that’s wonderful. How do you do that?'...So when I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the horses running around and around to the music of 'Beautiful Ohio' and I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks because I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. And so I went home and within days I started to write. And I’ve never stopped.


In 1934, the family had settled in Los Angeles, and Ray was writing scripts for the George Burns and Gracie Allen Radio Program.

Above George Burns and 14-years-old Ray Douglas Bradbury.

While writing for "Burns and Allen", Ray was attending "Los Angeles High School" and was a member of the drama club. Below is a photo of the high school senior.

In 1936, the 16-years-old, was obsessed with science fiction stories, and had become friends with science fiction writer Alfred Johannes Olsen, who wrote under the pen name of Bob Olsen. Olsen mainly wrote for "Amazing Stories", and created the term, "Space Marines", below his cover story, "Space Marines and the Slavers".

By 1938, Ray Bradbury was writing science fiction stories for fanzines. The young writer was invited to join "The Los Angeles Science Fiction Society", the oldest such group in the United States, and met another young science fiction fan and would be writer, Forest J. Ackerman. The meetings were held in downtown Los Angeles at "Clifton's Cafeteria". Later, another member would be Ray Harryhausen. Today, those meetings are a memory to many of us Los Angeles area science fiction fans, below, "Clifton's" in 2017, the year before it closed.

Ray Bradbury's first published story was entitled "Hollerbochen's Dilemma" and was published in the January 1938 issue of Forrest J. Ackerman's fanzine, "Imagination". "4e" and his girlfriend "Morojo", look her up, gave 19-years-old, Ray Bradbury, the money to go to his first science fiction convention in New York City, and financed his fanzine, "FUTURIA FANTASIA", which he wrote all the stories and material for.

December 7, 1941 came and Ray Douglas Bradbury discovered, because of his poor eyesight, that he was rejected from enlistment in the army. The army's loss was science fiction writings gain, as he was now free to become a full-time writer. Bradbury would co-write with different people, but late in 1942, writer Ray Bradbury sold his first solo story, "The Lake", for $13.75, as of this writing equal to $269.00. Below, his story the "Undersea Guardians", became the cover of the December 1944 issue of "Amazing Stories". 

1947 was a major year for Ray Douglas Bradbury. 

The year started at the 7th Street, downtown Los Angeles, "Fowler Brothers Book Store", established in 1888, with a store clerk thinking he was about to steal a book. Instead of having him arrested for theft, clerk Marguerite "Maggie" McClure, married Ray.

"Weird Tales" rejected a 1947 story, "Homecoming", as too weird for weird. Ray submitted it to "Mademoiselle" magazine and a young editorial assistant liked it and got it published. Oh, the editorial assistant was named Truman Capote. The rejected story went on to win a place in the "O'Henry Award" stories for 1947.

Also in October 1947, August Derleth, published a collection of 27-short-stories, Ray Bradbury's debut book, "Dark Carnival".

In 8th Century BC, in Greece,  Homer (houmer); Ancient Greek:Ὅμηρος [hómɛːros]Hómēros; wrote and published his, "The Odyssey" (Ancient Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, Romanized: Odýsseia). 

On May 4, 1950, Ray Bradbury published his, "Odyssey", called "The Martian Chronicles".

The following quote is found on https://raybradbury.com/:

The thing that makes me happy is that I know that on Mars, two hundred years from now, my books are going to be read. They’ll be up on dead Mars with no atmosphere. And late at night, with a flashlight, some little boy is going to peek under the covers and read The Martian Chronicles on Mars.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Lionel Atwill: The Legitimate Stage, Classic and Not So Classic Horror, and "Sherlock Holmes"

His name was Lionel Alfred William Atwill, and he was born into a wealthy family, on  March 1, 1885, at 2 Upton Villas, South Norwood,  in C...