Ray Bradbury: Something Centenary This Way Comes
Tyrades! by Danny Tyree
I was jealous of my wife a couple of years ago.
Our son’s sophomore English class read Ray Bradbury’s cautionary novel “Fahrenheit 451” and she found the time to read along.
My writing deadlines and regimen of prioritizing news and nonfiction books blocked me from making it a family affair. But August 22 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bradbury (who passed away in 2012), so I’ve been doing the best I can to prepare to pay tribute to the author whose haunting short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” remains one of my most vivid junior high school memories.
(The GIRLS in my class also deserve credit for seeing to it that science fiction and fantasy were my most vivid junior high school memories. *Sigh*)
As the centennial approaches, I’ve been speed-reading Bradbury biographical material. I waxed nostalgic to learn of his childhood encounters with Johnson Smith Company novelty catalogs, and felt tremendously relieved to discover that he, too, thought NBC’s 1980 miniseries of “The Martian Chronicles” was “just boring.”
I’m reacquainting myself with the anthology “The Illustrated Man.” (Oh, how that intriguing tattoo-enhanced cover called out to me from the paperback rack at the local library nearly 50 years ago!) I’m scheduling time to watch “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (starring Jason Robards), the Emmy-winning animated movie “The Halloween Tree” and the “I Sing the Body Electric” episode of the original “The Twilight Zone.”
Starting with “Mars Is Heaven,” I’m working my way through the 65 episodes of the 1985-1992 “Ray Bradbury Theater” TV series. (Oh, that intoxicatingly cluttered, imagination-invigorating office in the opening sequence!)
Bradbury was a man ahead of his time, and not just because he envisioned technological marvels such as banking ATMs, ear buds, Bluetooth headsets and artificial intelligence. He believed in “paying it forward” before it was a “thing.” He was never bashful about crediting inspirations, such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. He also made time to encourage young writers. (At least one of my Facebook friends reveres Bradbury as an invaluable mentor.)
As early as 1994, Bradbury was sounding alarm bells about then-nascent “political correctness.” He had such a love affair with the English language, it would be disrespectful to PUT WORDS in his mouth about any specific current personalities, causes or hot-button topics; but I can’t imagine he would have approved of the sledgehammer approach of modern “cancel culture.”