Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Pulp Culture
SF master
Ray Bradbury
to visit Shoals

April 27, 2000
By Franklin Harris

Science fiction is filled with classic moments, and the author of one of them is coming to North Alabama.

We are a visually oriented species, so we tend to remember most the ones from films, like when the camera pulls back to reveal the shattered Statue of Liberty in "Planet of the Apes" or Dave Bowman's confrontation with the mad HAL 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey." But literary SF has its share of key moments, too.

One of the most memorable is in "Usher II," one of the stories of Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles."

The story's protagonist, William Stendahl, invites several people to his new house on Mars. They are not his friends; they are, in fact, his enemies. They're the sort of people who burn books not because they hate some ideas or some dreams, but because they hate ideas and dreams as such.

They all die, killed by murderous apes and the Red Death and the like. Then the house itself collapses on their worthless corpses. It's a great moment in SF because they all would have known that the house was a deathtrap if only they had read their Poe.

The house was modeled on Poe's House of Usher.

Of course, Bradbury is now almost as big a name as Edgar Allan Poe. And just as Poe's works are required reading in schools, so too are some of Bradbury's, most notably "Fahrenheit 451," his timeless anti-censorship story.

He prepared himself for a career as a writer by immersing himself in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. But he says he doesn't write "science fiction," but rather "speculative fiction."

"I write about what's possible," Bradbury told the audience at last year's Space Frontier Foundation conference. "The only science fiction I've written is 'Fahrenheit 451.' "

In his long career he has had his own television series, "The Ray Bradbury Theater," 65 episodes of which ran on HBO and USA Network from 1985 to 1992, and survived a traumatizing experience as the screenwriter on director John Huston's "Moby Dick."

Still suffering the aftereffects of a November 1999 stroke, which left him partially paralyzed on the right side, the 79-year-old writer is as busy as ever. His current projects include plays, a mystery novel and screen adaptations of his own works, including a new version of "Fahrenheit 451," which is, after numerous fits and starts, still languishing in what film insiders call Development Hell.

He resumed his lecturing tour in January and will be in the Shoals in May.

From May 19-21, Sheffield's Ritz Theater will play host to a performance of the "The World of Ray Bradbury," a stage production combining selections from Bradbury's canon, including "The Book People" from "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Third Landing" from "The Martian Chronicles."

Bradbury is scheduled to attend the May 21 performance. He will also give a lecture, "Yestermorrow and Beyond: An Evening with Ray Bradbury," on May 22 at Norton Auditorium on the University of North Alabama campus in Florence.

The lecture will be at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, performances for "The World of Ray Bradbury" will be at 8 p.m. May 19-20, and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. May 21. Tickets for the play and lecture each are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Tickets for both are available at Ryan Piano Co., Anderson's Bookland, Wizard's Comics, Flashbacks, Super Wonder Comics and Pegasus Records, Tapes & CDs, all in Florence, and the Tennessee Valley Art Center in Tuscumbia.

Additionally, tickets for the lecture only are available at the UNA Ticket Office and the UNA Office of Student Auxiliary Services. You can order them by calling (256) 765-4658.

Pulp Magazines


Order a helping of Cartoon Network's 'Robot Chicken'

Campaign against video games is political grandstanding

Prize-winning author is 'Wrong About Japan'

Censored book not a good start

Some superhero comics are for 'fanboys' only

'Constantine' does well with its out-of-place hero

'80s publisher First Comics' legacy still felt

Director's cut gives new 'Daredevil' DVD an edge

Put the fun back into 'funnybooks'

Is 'Elektra' the end of the road for Marvel movies?

'House of Flying Daggers' combines martial arts and heart

Anniversary edition of 'Flying Guillotine' has the chops

Movie books still have role in the Internet era

Looking ahead to the good and the bad for 2005

The best and worst of 2004

'Has-been' Shatner is a 'transformed man'

'New Avengers' writer Bendis sweeps away the old



Web site designed by Franklin Harris.
Send feedback to