Ray Bradbury: Short Stories

Cultural contributions

Bradbury wrote many short essays on the arts and culture, attracting the attention of critics in this field, but he used his fiction to explore and criticize his culture and society. Bradbury observed, for example, that Fahrenheit 451 touches on the alienation of people by media:

In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap opera cries, sleep walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.[46]

In a 1982 essay he wrote, "People ask me to predict the Future, when all I want to do is prevent it." This intent had been expressed earlier by other authors,[47] who sometimes attributed it to him.

Bradbury hosted The Ray Bradbury Theater which was based on his short stories. Bradbury was a consultant for the American Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair[48] and the original exhibit housed in Epcot's Spaceship Earth geosphere at Walt Disney World.[49][50][51] In the 1980s, Bradbury concentrated on detective fiction.[52]

Bradbury was a strong supporter of public library systems, and helped to raise money to prevent the closure of several in California due to budgetary cuts. He iterated from his past that "libraries raised me", and shunned colleges and universities, comparing his own lack of funds during the Depression with poor contemporary students.[53] His opinion varied on modern technology. In 1985 Bradbury wrote, "I see nothing but good coming from computers. When they first appeared on the scene, people were saying, 'Oh my God, I'm so afraid.' I hate people like that – I call them the neo-Luddites", and "In a sense [computers] are simply books. Books are all over the place, and computers will be too".[54] He resisted the conversion of his work into e-books, stating in 2010 "We have too many cellphones. We've got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now".[55] When the publishing rights for Fahrenheit 451 came up for renewal in December 2011, Bradbury permitted its publication in electronic form provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, allowed the e-book to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. The title remains the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalog where this is possible.[56]

Several comic book writers have adapted Bradbury's stories. Particularly noted among these were EC Comics' line of horror and science-fiction comics. Initially, the writers plagiarized his stories, but a diplomatic letter from Bradbury about it led to the company paying him and negotiating properly licensed adaptations of his work. The comics featuring Bradbury's stories included Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime Suspenstories, Haunt of Fear and others.

Bradbury remained an enthusiastic playwright all his life, leaving a rich theatrical legacy as well as literary. Bradbury headed the Pandemonium Theatre Company in Los Angeles for many years and had a five-year relationship with the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena.[57]

Bradbury is featured prominently in two documentaries related to his classic 1950s-'60s era: Jason V Brock's Charles Beaumont: The Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man,[58] which details his troubles with Rod Serling, and his friendships with writers Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and most especially his dear friend William F. Nolan, as well as Brock's The AckerMonster Chronicles!, which delves into the life of former Bradbury agent, close friend, mega-fan, and Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J Ackerman.

On May 24, 1956, Ray Bradbury appeared on the popular quiz show, You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx (Season 6 Episode 35).[59]


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