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Ray Bradbury Essay, Research Paper


Ray Bradbury

“Ray Bradbury is one of the immortals among us, whose classic works of science fiction, fantasy and horror will be read a thousand years from now by our descendents and the relatives alike of the planets of a thousand distant stars.” ( Dragon*con, website). He?s won many awards for his writings and lectures, and I have no doubt in my mind that his writings will live on forever.

“It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.” (Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 67).

The above is from Fahrenheit 451, a science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury. The quote describes the main concept of the book and is very appealing because it gives so much visual detail to the scene. This story is set in the future where all books and other written materials are


out lawed. Guy Montag?s job is to burn books and the houses which the books are hidden in. He never questions his actions until he meets an old women who tells him how it was in the past when people didn’t live in fear and could read whatever they wished. Eventually he does everything he can to prevent books from being burned and starts wanting to learn more and more. “I thought that this novel exercised great social commentary on society as a whole”. It shows how important books are to all. It also shows that some people feel that knowledge is a threat to power and rule. Reading is a freedom everyone should enjoy. Ray Bradbury is an American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. He was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 22, 1920. The third son of Leonard Spaulding Bradbury and Esther Marie Moberg Bradbury. In the fall of 1926 Ray Bradbury’s family moved from Waukegan to Tucson, Arizona, only to return to Waukegan in May 1927. By 1931 Ray had begun writing his own stories on butcher paper. In 1932, after his father was laid off from his job as a telephone lineman, the Bradbury family again moved to Tucson but again returned to Waukegan the following year. In 1934 the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles, California. Bradbury graduated from a Los Angeles High School in 1938. His formal education ended there, but he furthered it by himself — at night in the library and by day at his typewriter. (Bradbury, Fahrenheit back of book). He sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners from 1938 to 1942. Bradbury’s first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma,” printed in 1938 in Imagination!, an amateur fan magazine. In 1939, Bradbury published four issues of Futuria Fantasia, his own fan magazine, contributing much of the published material himself. Bradbury’s first paid publication was “Pendulum” in 1941 to Super Science Stories. In 1942 Bradbury wrote “The Lake,” the story in which he discovered his distinctive writing style. ( Dragon*con, website).

By 1943 he had given up his job selling newspapers and began writing full-time, contributing numerous short stories to periodicals. In 1945 his short story “The Big Black and White Game” was selected for Best American Short Stories. In 1947 Bradbury married


Marguerite McClure, and that same year he gathered much of his best material and published them as Dark Carnival, his first short story collection. His reputation as a leading writer of science fiction was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950 (published in England under the title The Silver Locusts), which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, the constant thwarting of their efforts by the gentle, telepathic Martians, the eventual colonization, and finally the effect on the Martian settlers of a massive nuclear war on Earth. (Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles 45)As much a work of social criticism as of science fiction, The Martian Chronicles reflects some of the prevailing anxieties of America in the early atomic age of the 1950’s: the fear of nuclear war, the longing for a simpler life, reactions against racism and censorship, and fear of foreign political powers. (Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles 45) Ray’s fiction comes in both heavy-duty novel-length writings and the handy, travel-size short-story writing for ease and convenience, and his work is brilliant in both forms. His novels include 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).


Another of Bradbury’s best-known works, the novel Fahrenheit 451, was released in 1953 and is set in a future when the written word is forbidden. Resisting a totalitarian state which burns all the books, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy. (Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451).

Ray Bradbury’s work has been included in the Best American Short Story collections (1946, 1948, and 1952). He was awarded 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, and the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. His animated film about the history of flight, Icarus Montgolfier Wright, was nominated for an academy award, and his teleplay of The Halloween Tree won an Emmy. ( Johnston and Jepsen, website). Bradbury’s stories and novels have been adapted for the screen, both large and small. The Martian Chronicles (1980 miniseries), Vino iz oduvanchikov (1996 miniseries), Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine (1981 TV), The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Illustrated Man (1969), It Came From Outer Space (1953), It Came From Outer Space II (1996), King of Kings (1961), Moby Dick (1956), The Murderer (1976), The Picasso Summer (1969), Quest (1983), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), and Trinadtsaty Apostol (1988). ( Dragon*con, website).

Ray Bradbury’s writing has been honored in many ways, but perhaps the most unusual was when an Apollo astronaut named the Dandelion Crater on the Moon after Bradbury’s novel, Dandelion Wine. 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. Ray Bradbury is a winner of the Nebula, Prometheus, O.Henry Memorial, Balrog, Bram Stoker, Benjamin Franklin, Aviation


Space Writers and World Fantasy (Lifetime Achievement) Awards. He has won the Gandalf Award for Lifetime Contribution to Fantasy (1980). A writer for TV, radio, theater and film, his credits includeing 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 late in 1999. 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. Ray Bradbury currently lives in California and is still actively writing and lecturing. ( Johnston and Jepsen, website).


Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451, Ballabtine, Copyright 1953.

Bradbury, Ray. Stories of Ray Bradbury, Alfred A. Knopf, Copyright 1980

Bradbury, Ray. The Catcher in the Rye, Ballabtine, Copyright 1985

Cashman, Paul. Ray Bradbury is among the finest SF, fantasy and horror writers this world will ever know. Online. America on Line. Dragon*con , copyright 1999.

Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles, Double day, copyright 1950.

Johnston, Richard and Jepsen Chris. Ray Bradbury?s Bibliography, Online. America Online. Brookingsbook.com. Copyright by Richard Johnston.

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