Ray Bradbury: Author Of Science Fiction And Fantasy Essay, Research Paper
Ray Douglas Bradbury became interested in books and writing at the age of seven and aware of the “fabulous world of future and the world of fantasy,” through the arrival of Buck Rogers in comic strips and the magazine Amazing Stories. Thus begun his journey into a life of fantastic and futuristic types of literature that would be synonymous with his name (Kunitz, 1955, p. 111).
Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 22, 1920. His parents, Esther and Leonard Bradbury sent him to public school in Waukegan until the Bradbury family moved to California in 1934. Bradbury then entered school at Los Angeles High. The year before he graduated, he joined the Los Angeles Science-Fantasy Society. Bradbury used this organization to begin writing science fiction in his own magazine called Futuria Fantasia (Candee, 1954).
Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938. That was the end of his formal education, but he continued to keep occupied. Bradbury did this by visiting the library at night and writing in the day. He sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners for four whole years after graduation. Bradbury started his career with the publishing of short stories. Bradbury’s first paid publication was a relative success and caused him to take writing more seriously. He even started to develop his own writing style. By 1943, Bradbury gave up selling newspapers and undertook writing full-time. Many writings were added to periodicals (Johnson & Jepson, ‘98, Internet).
In 1945 one of his short stories was selected for Best American Short Stories. In 1947 Bradbury married Marguerite McClure, and that same year he compiled much of his best material and published them as his first short story collection called Dark Carnival. This was the beginning of his career as a renowned and acclaimed author of science fiction (Johnson & Jepson, 1998, Internet).
Bradbury was enormously popular throughout the 50’s and 60’s with the production of The Martian Chronicles and many other vast collections of short stories. As his output of fiction decreased in the 60’s and 70’s many “retrospective and omnibus collections [of short stories] became common.” Recently, Bradbury has produced mainly poetry and plays (Beacham, 1986, p. 158).
Johnson and Jepson (1998) describe major contributions Bradbury made outside of the literary field.
Outside of his literary achievements, Ray Bradbury was the idea consultant and wrote the basic scenario for the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. He conceived the metaphors for Spaceship Earth, EPCOT, Disney World, and he contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France. He was creative consultant for the Jon Jerde Partnership, the architectural firm that blueprinted the Glendale Galleria, The Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles, and Horton Plaza in San Diego. [Internet]
Ray Bradbury still lives in California and is actively writing and lecturing. His hobbies include painting in oil and watercolors and collecting Mexican tribal dance masks. Despite his familiarity with outer space, he still hasn’t learned to drive a car (Fadool, 1976).
The works of Ray Bradbury are as numerous as the sands of the sea, or so it seems. Here is a listing of the works of Ray Bradbury from the Dragon Convention Guest Biographies (1998).
His novels include Fahrenheit 451 (Locus Award, 1987; Prometheus Award, 1984), The Halloween Tree, Death is a Lonely Business, Something Wicked This Way Comes (Locus Award, 1987), A Graveyard for Lunatics, Green Shadows and White Whale. His short-fiction has been collected or included in nearly uncountable anthologies and collections, including Dark Carnival, The Silver Locusts, Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow, The Golden Apples of the Sun, The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, The Day It Rained Forever, R Is for Rocket, The Small Assassin, The Anthem Sprinters and Other Antics, The Machineries of Joy, The Autumn People, S Is for Space, Tomorrow Midnight, Twice 22, The Vintage Bradbury, I Sing the Body Electric, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and Other Plays, When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, Pillar of Fire and Other Plays, Long After Midnight, Beyond 1984: A Remembrance of Things Future, The Haunted Computer and the Android Pope, The Complete Poems of Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, The Stories of Ray Bradbury Volume 2 and The Stories of Ray Bradbury (Locus Award, 1981). [Internet]
Bradbury is a winner of the Nebula, Prometheus, O. Henry Memorial, Balrog, Bram Stoker, Benjamin Franklin, Aviation-Space Writers and World Fantasy Awards. He is also SFWA Grand Master. Bradbury has won the Gandalf Award for Lifetime Contribution to Fantasy in 1980. A writer for TV, radio, theater and film, his credits include a script for the film Moby Dick. His show The Ray Bradbury Theatre is currently showing on the Sci-Fi Channel. Mel Gibson will star in and direct a new remake of Ray’s classic Fahrenheit 451, slated for release in 1999 (Guest Biographies, 1998, Internet).
Ray Bradbury was severely criticized in some cases for much of the literature that he wrote. Damon Knight explains how anyone that talks about Ray Bradbury does not completely understand his work. “His imagination is mediocre; he borrows nearly all his backgrounds and props, and distorts them badly” (Riley, 1975, p. 85). Damon Knight also states that little has been said about Bradbury’s technique of writing. Knight implies that Bradbury writes about stale and familiar topics with a new set of words describing them. “He never lets go of an idea until he has squeezed it dry, and never wastes one” (Riley, 1975, p. 85).
In a lighter look at Bradbury literary styles, Steven Dimeo states that Bradbury asks the younger generation for a belief in “pseudo-sciences, political fanaticism, or hero worship of one sort or another” (Riley, 1975, p. 85). Dimeo also says that the more we get into space, the more religious we become. Science has put man closer to the heavens that he had formerly considered the dominion of supreme beings. Dimeo also finishes by saying that Bradbury places man predictably at the center of the universe in the good old Renaissance tradition (Riley, 1975).
In an analysis of Bradbury’s writing style, Magil states that every piece of writing compiled by Bradbury is a discovery of himself. Each discovery is different and can flow in the past or in the future. “Several critics have pictured him as a frontiersmen, ambivalently astride two worlds, who has alternately been attracted to an idealistic past and to a graphic future” (1991, p. 356).
Magil also writes of the romanticism of Bradbury’s writing. Several conflicts are shown in his literature between human vitality and spiritless mechanism, between imagination and reason, and between the innocence of childhood and the corruptions of adulthood. Magil also speaks of the conflict in Bradbury’s own life having an affect on his literature. The conflict being between his own spirit against modern materialism and the driving need and use of such things has made other critics accuse him of “sentimentality and na?vet?” (1991, p. 357).
Bradbury has also been said to been a strongly autobiographical writer. Magil explains that Bradbury has often pointed to experiences in his life when writing his literature. “He once said that everything he has ever done were created by the primitive experiences of monsters and angels he had when he was five years old” (1991, p. 357).
Bradbury has been shown through his criticisms to be one of the most influential writers of his time and still continues to be.
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Michigan: Gale Research Co.
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December 1, 1998
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New York: The H. W. Wilson Co.
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Riley, C. (Ed.) (1975). Contemporary literary criticisms (CLC3)
Michigan: Gale Research Co.