The 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival explored “The Ray Bradbury Effect” during its celebration of the nation’s most gifted authors in a reimagined virtual festival, designed for readers of every age and interest, from September 25-27, 2020.
Bradbury biographer and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies Jonathan Eller moderated a discussion of Bradbury’s enduring influence on literature, space exploration, and our collective curiosity with Ann Druyan, documentarian and author of Cosmos: Possible Worlds and Leland Melvin, NASA engineer, astronaut, educator, and author of Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace and Second Chances.
The panel presentation is available online via the Festival’s online platform and YouTube. Eller, Druyan, and Melvin also participated in a live Q & A on Saturday from 4pm to 4:30pm EDT.
356 issues of Galaxy, one of the most prestigious science fiction magazines of the 1950s, can be found online in the Internet Archive. Ray Bradbury’s early version of Fahrenheit 451, “The Fireman,” published in the February 1951 issue, and his 1962 short story, “Come to my Cellar” are just two of the gems to be discovered alongside the works of Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl and many others. It’s not surprising that Bradbury’s work ended up in Galaxy. Editor H.L. Gold hoped to develop a new science fiction audience by publishing stories that focused on ideas and employed a humorous or satiric treatment of psychological and sociological themes.
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Anyone who reads Ray Bradbury experiences the result of the boundless enthusiasm and love the man poured into his writing. That same excitement and generosity of spirit shone through in person. In August, 1986 he regaled the audience at the 44th ConFederation (Worldcon) in Atlanta, Georgia with stories of his career–how he pursued the loves of his life, whether it was space, dinosaurs, or enduring friendships with those whose hearts were as wide and deep as his own. If you have only read Bradbury, watch and listen to the man behind the typewriter for a better appreciation of the passion that drove him to share the life he experienced, the worlds he imagined, and the futures he hoped he could inspire others to create for themselves and the universe.
Richard Chizmar and Legion of Superheroes’ artist Dennis Calero have translated Ray Bradbury’s “The Screaming Woman” into a graphic story for Chizmar’s anthology Seasons of Terror. Bradbury’s tale of a young girl, whose insistence that mysterious screams are coming from the woods near her house is dismissed by her parents, has a long history of adaptations. It debuted as a 1948 radio play for Suspense before it became a short story in Today, was anthologized in S is for Space in 1966, and then adapted for Ray Bradbury Theatre in 1986. Chizmar, who hopes to engage a new generation of readers with classic horror, has paired Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon with different illustrators to create a unique visual take for each of the four comics included in the anthology.
The book is available for pre-order now.
Ray Bradbury fans can be found in many places: libraries, English classrooms, science fiction conventions, and, of course, NASA and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Dr. John Grant, a geologist with the Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies who has worked on the Curiosity Laboratory, the Mars 2020 rover and the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, first discovered the red planet when he read Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.
In his remembrance of Ray Bradbury’s influence, Grant recalls how reading stories of ancient Martian civilizations at the same time the Mariner 9 and Viking missions were actually reaching Mars inspired an interest in planetary geology that took him from imagining Martian craters as he played outside to working on missions that land exploratory vehicles in the real thing.
South Pasadena Poet Laureate Ron Koertge has written a poem to accompany the stained glass window installation planned for the Bradbury Conference Room of the South Pasadena Public Library. With “In Memoriam,” Koerte recalls the advice the author once offered over a cup of coffee after a long day of conference presentations: “Mess around after you get your work done,” Bradbury suggested.
Koertge’s poem and the stained glass window designed by Tim Carey Studios are just two ways the library continues to honor Ray Bradbury. They also hold a significant collection of memorabilia and photographs related to the author, who frequented so many of the libraries near his home in Cheviot Hills.
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens, is now accepting submissions from students across the country in grades 7–12 for the inaugural Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy.
The award is sponsored by the Ray Bradbury Foundation in recognition of the author’s dedication to encouraging young writers to explore their craft. Up to six students will receive $1,000 scholarships for writing that uses supernatural, magical, futuristic, scientific, and technological themes as a key element of the narrative. Their educators will receive $250.
Learn More About Submitting
Learn More About the Award