Remembering Ray Bradbury

PrintE-mail Written by Jon Towlson

Ray Bradbury, most famous for his novels Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451 (which was made into a film in 1966 by acclaimed director Francois Truffaut), was one of the most important and prolific horror/science fiction novelists of all time. In a career spanning over 70 years he wrote hundreds of play, novels, short stories and film & television scripts.

He has had an influence over a generation of horror and science fiction writers, from Stephen King to Fritz Leiber.

Ray Bradbury was born in Illinois, but as a teenager moved with his family first to Tucson, Arizona and then to Los Angeles where he spent the rest of his life. As an avid film-goer, Bradbury marveled at silent horror films as a child, with Lon Chaney as a particular favorite. An equally avid reader, the young Ray devoured Edgar Allan Poe, H.G Wells, Jules Verne and his favourite, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

After failing to gain entry to the army on the grounds of poor eyesight, Ray started his writing career in fanzines before selling his first piece to Superspace Stories in 1941. A chance meeting with the playwright, Christopher Isherwood led to the publication of Bradbury’s first major work, The Martian Chronicles eight years later. A collection of stories about earthlings colonizing Mars in order to exploit its minerals, The Martian Chronicles established Bradbury’s reputation as one of the foremost science fiction writers of the 1950s.

His most celebrated novel, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, depicts a future society in which books are banned. It was included on the English syllabus in schools across America and in Great Britain. Interestingly, Bradbury long opposed its publication as an e-book, only relenting in 2011.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s he also wrote scripts for many TV series, including Suspense, Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He also contributed to the scripts of sci-fi movie classics It Came from Outer Space and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

Dozens of film, radio and television adaptations have been made of his work. Some of the most significant include: Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Illustrated Man (1969) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). He has also had comic book adaptations made of his stories by Al Feldstein for EC Comics.

Outside of the science fiction genre, Bradbury wrote the screenplay for John Huston's film Moby Dick in 1956.

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