Ray Bradbury has written over more then five hundred published works and continues to keep writing. He is known as one of the best science fiction novelists and has won many awards and accommodations for it. After publishing his adult novel Fahrenheit 451, it was soon considered one of his best works. There is a question to be asked, Where does he get his inspiration and imagination to write wild stories of great fantasy? He stated that “When people ask me where I get my imagination, I simply lament, God, here and there, makes madness a calling” (Bradbury I).
American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. Ray Bradbury 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, Illinois to Tucson, Arizona, only to return to Waukegan again in May 1927. By 1931 he began writing his own stories on butcher paper. His childhood was very important to him because it was a constant source of intense sensations, feelings, and images that generate great stories.
As a child he was first inspired by seeing “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. “His childhood was that of a pleasant memory of a half-forgotten dream” (Person I). In 1932, after his father was laid off his job as a electrical lineman, the Bradbury family again moved to Tucson and 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.
He sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners from 1938 to 1942. Bradbury’s first story publication was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma,” printed in 1938 in Imagination! , an amateur fan magazine. In 1939, 11Bradbury 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.
By 1943 he had given up his job selling newspapers and began writing full-time, contributing numerous short stories to magazines such as “Black Mask”, “Amazing Stories” and “Weird Tales. ” 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 had four children: susan, Ramona, Bettina, and Alexandra. During 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 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. “Of twenty-two stories here collected, at most eight can be called ‘science fiction” (Holmes 12).
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. “Something about Mr. Bradbury’s style-its terseness, its simplicity, or its flashes of imagery-invites a serious approach and arouses an eager expectancy of fresh insight into the human condition” (Guidry 32). Not only is it Mr. Guidry who believes this, but plenty of Bradbury’s fans are out there saying even more incredible things.
Ray Bradbury’s work has been included in the Best American Short Story collections (1946, 1948, and 1952). He has been 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 in 1962, and his teleplay of The Halloween Tree won an Emmy. Also he has written for such T. V. hows: Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the Twilight Zone and in 1953 did a screenplay for John Haston’s Moby Dick. 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. Go to the edge of a cliff and jump off, build your wings on your way down” (Bradbury I). This was of his best advice to college students. Bradbury’s best-known work, the adult 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.
There have been many recorded reactions to this book and this is just an example from a librarian: “fired off a letter of furious protest to the wholesaler. How dare they send such a dreadful book? I took it right out in back and burned it. ‘ Tomorrow is already here” (Kirk I). Their are many who probably agree and disagree with her reaction. In Fahrenheit 451, a man by the name of Guy Montag was the one to start fires and little did he know when he started a conversation with a seventeen year old girl, he began to question the pleasure of the midnight runs and the joy of watching pages consumed by flames. He yet understands why his wife Mildred would overdose on pills and would now seem to act in different ways. Soon after he began to wonder what urges people to read and what people talk about.
During one of the midnight runs he encountered a woman who would refuse to leave her home, and as Montag was going through the books he happen to catch a glimpse of a page and read it in which it infuriated him and he crushed the book with wild devotion. He was surprised to find out that the Captain knew a little bit of information from books, but never to much for it will go against rules. From the fire he managed to grab a book and when he reached home he stuffed it underneath his pillow and began to talk with Mildred, which seemed odd to him and to the things she could not remember and other things that she just blurted out.
The whole idea of him thinking and actually questioning things, that were stated facts in everyone else’s terms, completely frightened him. In a field that thrives on the fantastic and the marvelous, Ray Bradbury’s best stories celebrate the everyday; in a field preoccupied with the future, Mr. Bradbury’s vision is firmly rooted in the past. Widely regarded as the most important figure in the development of science fiction as a literary genre, Ray Bradbury’s work evokes the themes of racism, censorship, technology, nuclear war, humanistic values and the importance of imagination.