Bibliographies & Book Reviews
A Dark and Scary Place
Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, USA, in 1920, and attended Los Angeles High School, from which he graduated in 1938. He furthered his education with frequent nightly visits to the library and many days at the typewriter. Weird Tales accepted his first science fiction short story when he was twenty, and this was followed by a succession of other stories which appeared in the budding SF and fantasy magazines of the time. Since that time, he has gone on to publish more than 100 short stories, novels, poems, and plays. His work was selected for best American short story collections in 1946, 1948 and 1952. Among his many awards are: The O. Henry Memorial Award; The Benjamin Franklin Award in 1954; The Aviation-Space Writer's Association Award, for best space article in an American magazine in 1967; The World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, The Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America; and the National Medal of Arts award, presented by George W. Bush. He has written for television (including The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the excellent Ray Bradbury Theatre), radio and the theatre, and the screenplays for It Came From Outer Space; Moby Dick; and Something Wicked This Way Comes which was adapted from his own novel.
Bradbury was ideas consultant for the United States Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. He also wrote the basic scenario for the interior of Spaceship Earth at EPCOT, Disney World, and has conducted consultant work on city engineering and rapid transit. One of the Apollo space teams named Dandelion Crater on the moon in honour of his novel, Dandelion Wine. His many written works have been translated into numerous languages, and he is internationally acclaimed for being a prolific author of fantasy-laden science fiction and horror.
His first printed story was The Homecoming (about about a boy who feels isolated among a gathering of night creature relatives) and 'Dark Carnival' his first book collection via a small press company.
I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC!, (c) 1948, Grafton (UK).
A collection of 18 short stories, comprising: The Kilimanjaro Device; The Terrible Conflagration Up at the Place; Tomorrow's Child; The Women; The Inspired Chicken Motel; Downwind from Gettysburg; Yes, We'll Gather at the River; The Cold Wind and the Warm; Night Call, Collect; The Haunting of the New; I Sing the Body Electric!; The Tombling Day; Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby's is a Friend of Mine; Heavy-Set; The Man in the Rorschach Shirt; Henry the Ninth; The Lost City of Mars; and Christus Apollo.
THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, (c) 1951, Grafton (UK).
Originally written as The Silver Locusts, this follows the progress of three Earth Expeditions to Mars, each following up the previous one when it does not return and nothing is heard. The first is told from the viewpoint of a Martian couple, the husband of which takes drastic action when his wife dreams of the arrival of six-feet-tall beings from another world. The three men of the second expedition lose contact with each other when they are drawn into illusions in which they are reunited with long-dead relatives in the modest backwater villages in which they were born. The third, and major part of the book, follows the rise and fall of a human colony. The Martian Chronicles was filmed as a three-part mini-series, but failed to reach the standards of the novel.
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, (c) 1952, Grafton (UK).
The narrator is on the final leg of a walking tour of Wisconsin, when he meets and makes camp with a large and muscular man, covered from neck to feet in tattoos. But these are not ordinary tattoos. The big man had some time previously fallen in love with a woman "illustrator" who had, over a long period, covered him in hundreds of beautiful intricate patterns and images. The woman vanished one day, never to return. But the pictures are alive and moving, playing out tales of terror and woe. The man tells the narrator that he will kill the woman when he finds her, for ruining his life, because he has not been able to hold a relationship or keep a job since. As the two men lie down shirtless on that warm summer night, images move again, and the narrator cannot remove his gaze as the tales unfold.
This book is in the form of 16 short stories: The Veld; Kaleidoscope; The Other Foot; The Highway; The Man; The Long Rain; Usher II; The Last Night of the World; The Rocket; No Particular Night or Morning; The Fox and the Forrest; The Visitor; Marionettes, Inc.; The City; Zero Hour; and The Playground.
THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN, (c) 1953, Grafton (UK).
A collection of 22 short stories: The Fog Horn; The Pedestrian; The April Witch; The Wilderness; The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl; Invisible Boy; The Flying Machine; The Murderer; The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind; I See You Never; Embroidery; The Big Black and White Game; A Sound of Thunder; The Great Wide World Over There; Powerhouse; En La Noche; Sun and Shadow; The Meadow; The Garbage Collector; The Great Fire; Hail and Farewell; and The Golden Apples of the Sun. Contains chapter-heading illustrations.
FAHRENHEIT 451, (c) 1954, Grafton (UK).
...being the temperature at which book paper burns. A futuristic novel in which all books are outlawed as being the cause of all unhappiness and disruption. Montag is part of a special taskforce of firemen which destroys classic books as and when they are found, until he sits down and begins to read one himself. When his secret hoard is finally discovered and burned, Montag is taken by a friend to a secret location where individuals memorise entire classic works of literature and pass the knowledge on to their offspring.
THE OCTOBER COUNTRY, (c) 1955, Grafton (UK).
A collection of 13 short stories: The Dwarf; The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse; Skeleton; The Jar; The Traveler; The Emissary; Touched With Fire; The Scythe; Uncle Einar; The Wind; There Was an Old Woman; Homecoming; and The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone.
DANDELION WINE, (c) 1957, Grafton (UK).
In this excellent collection of character stories, written as a novel, 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding discovers the joys of summer in a secret world within reality. During this time he comes into contact with: the inventor who almost took the pleasure out of life by building a happiness machine; the young reporter who fell in love with an alluring lady of 90; and the old gentleman whose last act was listening to the clang of a green trolley car going round a corner 2,000 miles away.
THE DAY IT RAINED FOREVER, (c) 1959, ROC Penguin (UK).
A collection of 23 short stories: The Day it Rained Forever; In a Season of Calm Weather; The Dragon; The End of the Beginning; The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit; Fever Dream; Referent; The Marriage Mender; The Town Where No One Got Off; Icarus Montgolfier Wright; Almost the End of the World; Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed; The Smile; Here There Be Tygers; The Headpiece; Perchance to Dream; The Time of Going Away; The Gift; The Little Mice; The Sunset Harp; A Scent of Sarsparilla; And the Rock Cried Out; and The Strawberry Widow.
R IS FOR ROCKET, (c) 1962, Bantam (US).
A collection of 17 short stories, at present unobtainable in the UK in this format: R is for Rocket; The End of the Beginning; The Fog Horn; The Rocket; The Rocket Man; The Golden Apples of the Sun; A Sound of Thunder; The Long Rain; The Exiles; Here There Be Tygers; The Strawberry Widow; The Dragon; The Gift; Frost and Fire; Uncle Einar; The Time Machine; and The Sound of Summer Running.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, (c) 1963, Grafton (UK).
In this, arguably Bradbury's best novel to date, two 13-year-old boys grow up almost overnight when a deadly carnival comes to Green Town, Illinois. It contains all manner of beasts and freaks, and a carousel which is not what it seems. The leader, the mysterious Mr Dark, develops a decidedly unhealthy interest in the boys when they get too close to the truth. Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of the same title.
THE MACHINERIES OF JOY, (c) 1964, Grafton (UK).
A collection of 21 short stories: The Machineries of Joy; The One Who Waits; Tyrannosaurus Rex; The Vacation; The Drummer Boy of Shiloh; Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!; Almost the End of the World; Perhaps We Are Going Away; And the Sailor, Home From the Sea; El Dia Muerte; The Illustrated Woman; Some Live Like Lazarus; A Miracle of Rare Device; And So Died Riabouchinska; The Beggar on O'Connell Bridge; Death and the Maiden; A Flight of Ravens; The Best of All Possible Worlds; The Lifework of Juan Diaz; To the Chicago Abyss; and The Anthem Sprinters.
THE HALLOWEEN TREE, (c) 1972, Bantam (US).
In this children's novella, nine trick-or-treaters undertake and odyssey of discovery during one moon-filled night. Their objective, to learn the original secret of All Hallows Eve. Contains sketch illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini.
LONG AFTER MIDNIGHT, (c) 1976, Grafton (UK).
A collection of 22 short stories: The Blue Bottle; One Timeless Spring; The Parrot Who Met Papa; The Burning Man; A Piece of Wood; The Messiah; GBS - Mark V; The Utterly Perfect Murder; Punishment Without Crime; Getting Through Sunday Somehow; Drink Entire: Against the Madness of Crowds; Interval in Sunlight; A Story of Love; The Wish; Forever and the Earth; A Better Part of Wisdom; Darling Adolf; The Miracles of Jamie; The October Game; The Pumpernickel; Long After Midnight; and Have I Got a Chocolate Bar For You!
THE SMALL ASSASSIN, (c) 1976, Grafton (UK).
A collection of 13 short stories: The Small Assassin; The Next in Line; The Lake; The Crowd; Jack-in-the-Box; The Man Upstairs; The Cistern; The Tombstone; The Smiling People; The Handler; Let's play "Poison"; The Night; and The Dead Man.
THE STORIES OF RAY BRADBURY - VOLUME ONE, (c) 1980, Granada (UK).
THE STORIES OF RAY BRADBURY - VOLUME TWO, (c) 1980, Granada (UK).
Originally available as a two-book boxed set, these are now on sale separately. Apparently inspired by friendly arguments about favourite Bradbury short stories, they are the ultimate collections of some of his best. The first contains 52 tales, the second 48. This is an ideal starting place for newcomers to his work; but readers should be aware that most of the stories included in his other books appear in this two-book collection.
Stories to look for in Volume One include: The Small Assassin, about a baby who blames its mother for its entrance into the cold, harsh world from its prior warm cocoon, and tries to kill her; A Sound of Thunder, in which a time-travelling hunting expedition in prehistoric times affects the known future; The Scythe, where a peasant farmer cuts the heads off his corn and relates it to the loss of life in the world; and The Lake, in which a summertime childhood friendship extends beyond death.
Included in Volume Two are: The October Game, about an object- feeling game in the dark which becomes a little too real for comfort; The Haunting of the New, in which an old house becomes tired of the atrocities committed within its confines, and no longer allows tainted people inside; and All Summer in a Day, where a little girl is locked up by her cruel friends and misses the one day of sunshine in thousands of years of rain.
DEATH IS A LONELY BUSINESS, (c) 1985, Grafton (UK).
Set in Venice, California in 1949, this is a murder mystery that positively exudes atmosphere. Against the backdrop of a dismantled arcade and broken roller coaster, a struggling writer catches a late train home, where a drunk sits behind him and whispers of death. A dead man is found in an abandoned circus cage, and the hunt is on to discover the identity of the drunk who our hero knows committed the atrocity. But convincing Detective Elmo Crumley is another matter.
THE TOYNBEE CONVECTOR, (c) 1988, Grafton (UK).
This first new collection of long-awaited short stories in nearly a decade comprises the following 23 titles: The Toynbee Convector; Trapdoor; On the Orient, North; One Night in Your Life; West of October; The Last Circus; The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair; I Suppose You Are Wondering Why We Are Here?; Lafayette, Farewell; Banshee; Promises, Promises; The Love Affair; One For His Lordship, and One For the Road!; At Midnight, in the Month of June; Bless Me Father, For I have Sinned; By the Numbers!; A Touch of Petulance; Long Division; Come, and Bring Constance!; Junior; The Tombstone; The Thing at the Top of the Stairs; and Colonel Stonesteel's Genuine Home-made Truly Egyptian Mummy.
A GRAVEYARD FOR LUNATICS, (c) 1990, Grafton (UK).
What is the connection between the struggling Maximus Pictures studios and the adjoining Green Glades Cemetery? A young and naive movie buff scriptwriter longs to relive the golden age of film. When he receives an anonymous note asking him to the cemetery, where he will learn a startling revelation, he is drawn into a years' old pact, a cover-up involving the death of the most prominent man in the film industry at that time. Aided rather reluctantly by a private detective friend, he attempts to uncover the truth, only to discover more than he bargained for.
QUICKER THAN THE EYE, (c) 1996, Earthlight (UK).
A collection of 21 short stories: Unterderseaboat; Zaharoff/Richter Mark V; Remember Sascha?; Another Fine Mess; The Electrocution; Hopscotch; The Finnegan; That Woman on the Lawn; The Very Gentle Murders; Quicker Than the Eye; Dorian in Excelsus; No News, Or What Killed the Dog?; The Witch Door; The Ghost in the Machine; At the End of the Ninth Year; Bug; Once More, Legato; Exchange; Free Dirt; Last Rites; and The Other Highway.
DRIVING BLIND, (c) 1997, Earthlight (UK).
A collection of 21 short stories: Night Train to Babylon; If MGM is Killed, Who Gets the Lion?; Hello, I Must Be Going; House Divided; Grand Theft; Remember Me?; Fee Fie Foe Fum; Driving Blind; I Wonder What's Become of Sally; Nothing Changes; That Old Dog Lying in the Dust; Someone in the Rain; Madame Et Monsieur Shill; The Mirror; End of Summer; Thunder in the Morning; The Highest Branch on the Tree; A Woman is a Fast-Moving Picnic; Virgin Resusitas; Mr Pale; and That Bird That Comes Out of the Clock.
FROM THE DUST RETURNED, (c) 2002, Earthlight (UK).
In some ways similar in format to Dandelion Wine, this is similarly themed short stories which knit nicely together as a novel. Partly based on the characters of his relatives, the Elliots are a fantastical group of individuals with peculiar traits. Cousin Cecy's spirit can fly across the astral plane and into people's heads. There are time travellers, spectres, invisibles, and a mummified husk that knows everything about death. These tales are brought together by Timothy, an orphan adopted by vampires. It's crazy to think that something seemingly so unbalanced should work, but work it does, and beautifully. The magic remains.
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD, (c) 2003, Avon/HarperCollins (US).
A collection of 25 short stories, 18 of which are brand new: First Day, Heart Transplant; Quid Pro Quo; After the Ball; In Memoriam; Tete-a-Tete; The Dragon Danced at Midnight; The Nineteenth; Beasts; Autumn Afternoon; Where All Is Emptiness, There Is Room to Move; One-Woman Show; The Laurel and Hardy Alpha Centauri Farewell Tour; Leftovers; One More for the Road; Tangerine; With Smiles as Wide as Summer; Time Intervening; The Enemy in the Wheat; Fore!; My Son, Max; The F.Scott/Tolstoy/Ahab Accumulator; Well, What Do You Have to Say For Yourself?; Diane de Foret; and The Cricket on the Hearth.
LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE, (c) 2003, Avon/HarperCollins (US).
A writer in Venice, California, is visited in the night by an ageing, once-glamorous Hollywood star who is in fear of her life. Before leaving, still panic-stricken, Constance leaves behind two listings: the Tiseltown Dead, and the Soon to be Dead, upon which her name appears. The writer attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, accompanied by his sidekick Crumley. A strange but compelling tale which seems to teeter on the boundary between fantasy and reality.
Farewell Summer, (c) 2008, HarperCollins (UK).
This is a brilliant return to 'Dandelion Wine' territory, as Bradbury's childhood alter ego Douglas Spaulding and his friends pit their wits against teachers and the town's older generations - only to realise, as Summer comes to an end, that the adults are not so much the enemy as Time itself.
The following titles are currently out of print, or are US only publications; most are short story collections, containing many of the aforementioned tales: 'S is For Space'; 'A Medicine For Melancholy'; 'The Anthem Sprinters'; 'Dinosaur Tales'; 'When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed'; 'Where Robot Mice and Robot Men Run Round in Robot Towns'; 'The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit'; 'Kaleidoscope'; 'One Timeless Spring'; 'Yestermorrow'; 'Journey to Far Metaphor'; 'Autumn People'; 'Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines'; 'Green Shadows, White Whale' (being Bradbury's reminiscences in Ireland on his film script adaptation of John Huston's Moby Dick); 'Zen in the Art of Writing' (being a collection of articles on writing).
There are many more titles (mostly US) which incorporate various collections of previously published stories, so be aware. Consequentially, I would advise any newcomer to Bradbury's excellent canon of short stories to purchase a bigger collection. The hardback book 'The Stories of Ray Bradbury' published by Everyman, containing around 200 of his stories (including most of the classics) would be my suggestion.
*UPDATE* At the time of writing Ray Bradbury was well into his eighties and still going strong, with further writing projects and at least three films in the pipeline, based on his books. Screen adaptations have generally thus far failed to capture the magic of his books. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions: the original François Truffaut 1966 film version of Fahrenheit 451 is well worth a look, as is the Ray Bradbury Theatre TV series (which in some regions went out under the name Twist in the Tale). There was also an excellent stateside radio series of his short stories, published by Durkin Hayes in 1994 and released by Paperback Audio on tape. These also contained snippets of interviews of the man himself, who was reportedly extremely happy with the productions.
It should be remembered that, as a prolific writer, there have been many more book titles which contain different collections of his short stories. Bradbury also wrote a number of non-fiction books - including those on the subject of writing ('Zen in the Art of Writing' is full of good advice) and some books of poems.
Many awards and nominations have been presented to Bradbury over the years for his work, including: the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award, the Eaton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction, SFPA Grand Master, Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, First Fandom Hall of Fame award, Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.
Ray Bradbury died in Los Angeles, USA on 5th June 2012, aged 91 - leaving an incredible legacy of books, poems, essays and consultancies. However, he will perhaps be best known for his prolific output of quality and thought-provoking short stories - upwards of 500 by the time of his death. Bradbury had a unique poetic prose style which I believe will never be replicated.
*See below for additional Ray Bradbury pictures
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