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The genre of the fantastic has lost one of its legends:
Celebrated author Ray Bradbury has died at age 91.
Born in 1920 in Waukegan, IL, Bradbury was a voracious
reader and science fiction fan in his youth, and began pubishing short stories
in the late ’30s (including in his own fanzine, Futuria Fantasia). His first short-story collection, DARK CARNIVAL,
was published by August Derleth’s Arkham House in 1947, and was soon followed
by the classic novels THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES in 1950 and FAHRENHEIT 451 (which
he considered his only science fiction novel: “Science fiction is a depiction
of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So MARTIAN CHRONICLES is not
science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see?” he told Weeklywire.com)
in 1953, and a slew of other books and short tales.
It wasn’t long before film and TV producers took notice of
Bradbury’s work, and adaptations appeared in such ’50s anthology series as
TALES OF TOMORROW, SUSPENSE and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, among others. Two 1953
big-screen landmarks were inspired by Bradbury: THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS
has a key scene derived from his story “The Fog Horn,” and the author’s screen
treatment ATOMIC MONSTER was developed into IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE. Francois
Truffaut filmed FAHRENHEIT 451 in 1966, and Jack Smight’s THE ILLUSTRATED MAN
followed three years later. THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES was filmed as a three-part
1980 NBC miniseries, and Jack Clayton directed a big-screen version of
Bradbury’s carnival-horror tale SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES in 1983. The
writer hosted his own series, THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER, from 1985-1992, and
scripted THE WONDERFUL ICE CREAM SUIT, based on his story “The Magic White
Suit” and directed by Stuart Gordon, in 1998. The most recent Bradbury adaptations
were the misbegotten 2005 A SOUND OF THUNDER and the 2008 indie RAY BRADBURY’S
Bradbury’s many honors range from lifetime achievement
citations from the Pulitzer Board, the World Fantasy Awards, the Stoker Awards
and others to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to having an asteroid named
after him in 1992. His masterful and hugely influential work will live on well
into the future he was always imagining.
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