Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about Ray Bradbury and his work. It has been compiled from various sources, and inspired by the posts on the Message Board of the official Ray Bradbury website.

This is the second draft version of the FAQ, updated September 19, 2013 - and it still needs work... Any suggestions or corrections are most welcome.

 

Who is Ray Bradbury?
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American writer. Born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, he began writing at the age of twelve, and began a professional writing career in the late 1930s. He has been active ever since.

 

Is he still alive?
Unfortunately not. Ray Bradbury died on June 5, 2012 at the age of 91.

 

Are there any new Bradbury books still to come?
Bradbury left an enormous amount of material, which is still (in 2013) being catalogued. It remains to be seen whether any new books will come to light - but it has to be said that many of the Bradbury books published in recent years have been of historical material such as the screenplays for It Came From Outer Space and Moby Dick.

 

Is he a science fiction writer?
This is a matter of debate, or even dispute. While it is certainly true that some of his best known work (Fahrenheit 451, and short stories such "A Sound of Thunder" and "The Veldt") is in the science fiction genre, the bulk of his work probably does not fit easily into the science fiction category. If it is necessary to apply a single genre designation to Bradbury's work, "fantasy" is probably a better fit. But that would be to ignore some of his contemporary fiction, his crime stories, etc. Look here for an attempt to classify each of Bradbury's tales.

 

What has he written?
About five hundred short stories, about ten novels, about twenty short story collections, several collections of poetry, many plays... For details of Bradbury's books, look here. For a fairly definitive short story list, look here.

 

What books are recommended for beginners?
A matter of opinion, but the novel Fahrenheit 451 is considered a classic of science fiction.So too is The Martian Chronicles. For short stories, there are two comprehensive collections called The Stories of Ray Bradbury and Bradbury Stories.

 

Which Bradbury stories have been made into films?
In chonological order: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, The Picasso Summer, The Screaming Woman (for TV), Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Electric Grandmother (for TV), The Halloween Tree (for TV), The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit, A Sound of Thunder. A new version of Fahrenheit 451 has been discussed for over a decade, but remains in "development hell", as does a new version of The Illustrated Man. In addition, many of Bradbury's stories have been adapted for television - the most notable of these being for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Ray Bradbury Theater. There have also been numerous short films. For a detailed list of film and TV adaptations, look here.

 

What is the title of the story in which...
Questions like this can be difficult to answer, but an ideal place to pose them if you are sure it is a Bradbury story is the Message Board at the official Ray Bradbury website. Please give as much information about the story as possible.

 

In my schooldays, we were shown a short film based on a Bradbury story. What was it called, and where can I get a copy?
This is probably All Summer in a Day, a popular film for the classroom (apparently). The only current online source for buying this on video is here.

 

Does Bradbury write romantic fiction under a pseudonym?
Er, no. (If he does, it is a very well kept secret that not even his biographer or literary biographer knw about.)

 

One of my favourite short stories is called [insert title here]. Where can I find it?
Try this comprehensive short story finder.

 

How can I contact Bradbury?
Via his publisher:

HarperCollins Publishers Inc
10 East 53rd Street
New York
NY 10022
USA

 

Does/did he use email?
No. Bradbury didn't even own a computer, and was very critical of computers and the internet.

 

I have seen Bradbury letters for sale on eBay. Are these genuine?
Ray gained a reputation for being very friendly towards his fans, and there were many instances where he replied to fan letters, and these do appear on auction sites from time to time. Bradbury also spent a lot of time autographing books and memorabilia. His friend William F. Nolan liked to joke that an unsigned Bradbury book was rarer than a signed one. So there is a lot of genuine signed Bradbury material out there, but you would need to consult an expert to verify any particular item.

 

Where did he live?
He was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois; he lived briefly in Arizona as a child; and from his teens onwards he lived in Los Angeles.

 

Is it true that he couldn't drive and wouldn't fly?
Ray did not drive. In interviews and in his writings he gave various explanations of this: not being able to afford to when he was young; not needing to because of good bus service in Los Angeles; his love of train travel; and witnessing a fatal car crash in his early years in Los Angeles. But he also argued very strongly that the automobile is one of our worst inventions, and famously pointed out that it is a bigger killer than many armed conflicts. In his fiction, there is often a strong disdain of the car. His short story "The Pedestrian" features a man who gets arrested simply for taking a walk. The novel Fahrenheit 451 describes billboards which have grown to immense length to ensure that motorists passing at hundreds of miles an hour might still be able to read them.

For many years, Ray was a non-flyer, especially for domestic travel where he preferred to go by train or be chauffeured. From sometime in the 1970s, however, he became a (reluctant) flyer. He became a consultant to the Disney corporation during the development of Disneyland Europe, and found it necessary to occasionally fly to Paris (which became one of his favourite cities).

 

Did Bradbury written an autobiography?
Not as such, no. However, some of his fiction is autobiographical, most notably the novel Dandelion Wine. You may sometimes see mention of a supposed autobiography called The Dogs That Eat Sweet Grass
- but this is actually a transcript of a long interview, and was published without permission, and all copies are believed to have been destroyed. (The original interview transcript belongs to UCLA, and still exists. It is available for consultation by researchers, but not to the general public.)

 

Are there any biographies of Bradbury?
Yes. The authorised biography is The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller, published while Ray was still alive. There is also a highly detailed literary biography from Jonathan R. Eller, called Becoming Ray Bradbury (and a sequel volume coming soon
). For the visually minded, there is Ray Bradbury: an Illustrated Life by Jerry Weist, which recounts Bradbury's career through images from his books and media projects.

 

Where can I get scripts of Bradbury's plays?
The largest collection of titles is available from Dramatic Publishing.

 

How can I get permission to perform one of Bradbury's plays?
You should usually contact the publisher of the play. Dramatic Publishing give some guidance for the titles they publish here.

 

What are Ray Bradbury's religious views?
It is not for any of us to put words in Ray's mouth, but Mr Dark offers the following succinct summary:

 

 

Mr. Bradbury's religious views seem to include a kind of "soft" humanism with an acceptance of the use of the term "god" but without a traditional connotation of a personal God. He uses religious metaphors, symbols and terminology to describe his moral views of mankind. He has a prejudice for freedom, for love, for beauty, and for community; and believes in an on-going struggle between good and evil.

 

What are his political views?
Again, it is not for us to put words in his mouth, but in recent interviews Ray declared all politicians to be fools, and declared his support of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For Bradbury's views towards the end of his life, try this thread.

Ray became quite well known for his views on censorship. Mr Dark offers the following information for anyone interested in exploring Ray's views on this topic:

 

 

 

In his foreword in the 40th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 (Simon and Schuster, NY, 1993) Bradbury addresses the issues leading to his focus on censorship. They included the following (some direct, contemporary experiences, some things he'd read about):

  • Activities of the "Un-American Activities Committee (prior to the McCarthy hearings.)
  • The McCarthy hearings and issues related to that period. (He discusses McCarthy's removal of books from the Army's library, and Eisenhower's return of those books to the shelves.)
  • Hitler's book-burnings.
  • Stalin's rumored book-burnings.
  • The witch hunts in Salem (in which an ancestor was charged, but not burned).
  • The burning of the Alexandrian Library in ancient history. -- His love of libraries and bookstores. -- An encounter with a policeman while out for a walk, which led to the writing of "The Pedestrian". This led to the character Montag, and to Fahrenheit 451.
  • He says he could not afford college, so he lived in libraries.
  • He also cites his love of books and ideas as driving him to oppose censorship and the restriction of ideas.
  • He also cites Hugh Hefner and the founding of Playboy magazine which Bradbury cites as a venture that had to overcome a "frightened nation" and which, according to Bradbury, "shocked and improved" the world. Obviously, he sees Playboy as an effort to overcome censorhip and the fear of ideas. He recounts his library/book/censorship stories as including: "The Bonfire," "Bright Phoenix," "The Exiles," "Usher II," all leading up to F451. He says he has probably written more stories, novels, plays, poems, etc., about libraries than any other writer today. He cites the library in "Something Wicked This Way Comes" as the central battleground between good and evil (Mr. Dark and Mr. Halloway). I love this line: "All the women in my life have been teachers, librarians or booksellers. I found my wife, Maggie, in a bookship in the spring of 1946."


Obviously, there are a lot of influences in Bradbury's focus on issues of censorship and the restriction of ideas. I think his love of ideas is, however, the driving force . . . his unwavering belief that the free exchange of ideas is what will allow mankind to achieve the best possible in him.

 

Did Ray Bradbury write for TV shows?
Yes. He wrote several scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, one episode of The Twilight Zone, and sixty-five episodes of The Ray Bradbury Theater. For more detail look here.

 

Are any of Bradbury's stories available on the web?
Very little of Ray's work is officially available for free on the web, but his books are now being made available as e-books. Check any good online bookshop for details...

 

Where can I buy Ray Bradbury books?
Any good bookshop! The hardest thing is usually finding the right shelf. If you can't find him under general fiction, try the Science Fiction shelf. Online sources include Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble.

 

Are there any books of literary criticism of Bradbury?
The following information is provided by Mr Dark:

 

 

 

There are actually quite a few books on Bradbury and his writing:

  • RAY BRADBURY (WRITERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY SERIES) Ed. Joseph D. Olander, Martin Harry Greenberg. Taplinger Publishing Co, NY. 1980
  • READINGS ON RAY BRADBURY: FARENHEIT 451. Ed. Katie de Koster. Greenhaven Press, San Diego. 2000.
  • RAY BRADBURY: A CRITICAL COMPANION (CRITICAL COMPANIONS TO POPULAR CONTEMPORARY WRITERS). Robin Ann Reid. Greenwood Press, CT. 2000.
  • RAY BRADBURY (TWAYNE'S UNITED STATES AUTHORS SERIES). David Mogen. Twayne Publishers, Boston. 1986.
  • FAHRENHEIT 451 AND RELATED WRITINGS:RAY BRADBURY (LITERATURE CONNECTIONS). McDougall Little, Evanstan IL. 1998.
  • RAY BRADBURY'S FAHRENHEIT 451 (MODERN CRITICAL INTERPRETATIONS). ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House Pub, Philadelphia. 2003.
  • THE RAY BRADBURY COMPANION. William F. Nolan. Gale Research, Detroit. 1975.
  • BRADBURY: AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE -- A JOURNEY TO FAR METAPHOR. Jerry Weist. William Morrow, NY. 2002.
Other books include:
  • RAY BRADBURY: THE LIFE OF FICTION. Jonathan R.Eller and William F. Touponce. Kent State University Press.
  • RAY BRADBURY (STARMONT READERS GUIDE No.31). William F. Touponce. Borgo Press 1989.
  • THE BRADBURY CHRONICLES (THE MILFORD SERIES). George Edgar Slusser. Borgo Press 1977.
  • RAY BRADBURY AND THE POETICS OF REVERIE: GASTON BACHELARD, WOLFGANG ISER AND THE READER'S RESPONSE TO FANTASTIC LITERATURE William F. Touponce. Borgo Press 1998.

 

Are there any study guides for Bradbury's books?
Yes. There is a free online resource called SparkNotes, which has detailed plot descriptions, character analyses etc for several Bradbury books. (You may need to register - for free - to access the full set of notes.) Another, similar resource is Pink Monkey.

Cliff's Notes have a couple of titles, in traditional book form.

 

What pen-names has Bradbury used?
Look here.

 

Who is Douglas Spaulding?
Douglas is a fictional character name that has been used in several works by Bradbury. Most notably the lead character of Dandelion Wine, Douglas is usually assumed to be a fictionalised version of Bradbury himself (Bradbury has confirmed this in many interviews. His own middle name is Douglas, and his father's middle name was Spaulding). However, the character name has also been used in related and apparently unrelated short stories, leading to some speculation/dispute as to whether these stories really are connected, or whether Bradbury just likes the name. Douglas stories include "One Timeless Spring" and "The Utterly Perfect Murder." For more speculations look here.

 

Have all Bradbury's short stories been put together into short story collections?
No. See the Short Story Finder for "uncollected to date" stories; see also this developing thread which discusses lost, collected and uncollected tales.
There is an ongoing programme from Kent State University Press to publish Bradbury's short stories in a scholarly edition in chronological order of original publication, which is currently projected to be three volumes (although this wouldn't be enough to include every story, so the series will either be in complete, or it will have to be extended.)

 

Has anyone published a "complete works" of Bradbury?
Not yet. The closest to this would be the two mammoth short story collections The Stories of Ray Bradbury and Bradbury Stories. These give quite comprehensive coverage of Bradbury's career and different writing styles, but are not complete (and do not claim to be).
There is also an ongoing programme from Kent State University Press to publish Bradbury's short stories in a scholarly edition in chronological order of original publication, which is currently projected to be three volumes (although this wouldn't be enough to include every story, so the series will either be in complete, or it will have to be extended.)

 

Given that Bradbury has made novels out of old stories, could there be more "uncompiled" novels waiting to be fixed-up?
With Ray's passing, this cannot happen. For previous speculations on this, see the thread on "dream" books, and the thread which discusses a hypotethical "Martian Chronicles II".

 

What poetry has Bradbury written?
A cronological listing appears here.

 

Has Bradbury written much non-fiction?
Yes. An excellent book on ideas and writing, called Zen in the Art of Writing (Joshua Odell Editions, Santa Barbara, 1996); Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures (Joshua Odell Editions, Santa Barbara, 1991); many forewords and afterwords discussing his stories and books; and numerous magazine articles - look here for a chronological listing.

 

Are Bradbury's novels really novels?
This question arises out of the fact that most of Bradbury's novel-length books are actually stitched together from previously published short stories. This practice is/was not uncommon in the days of genre pulp publishing; the science fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt coined the term "fix-up" to describe such a novel. Bradbury's first novel The Martian Chronicles is an example of a fix-up, in this case suggested to Ray by the publisher Walter I. Bradbury (no relation). It is possible that in later years Ray consciously wrote some of his novels piecemeal, publishing fragments as short stories and ultimately issuing the complete work as a novel. Exceptions to the fix-up rule include Something Wicked This Way Comes (although this began life as a short story and a film treatment), Death is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics, Let's All Kill Constance.

Mr Dark points out that major works by other authors have also followed this style, such as Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway; Bradbury has cited Anderson as being one of his influences.

 
 

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