Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Remembering Ray Bradbury's Tucson Years

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 1:06 PM

The New York Times notes the passing of Ray Bradbury at age 91:

By many estimations Mr. Bradbury was the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream. His name would appear near the top of any list of major science-fiction writers of the 20th century, beside those of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein and the Polish author Stanislaw Lem. His books have been taught in schools and colleges, where many a reader has been introduced to them decades after they first appeared. Many have said his stories fired their own imaginations.

Bradbury once told me that his own imagination was fired up when he was kid right here in Tucson:

RAY BRADBURY BEGAN his long career as a master of imaginative fiction as a 12-year-old boy right here in Tucson.

"My parents gave me a primitive, $6 typewriter for Christmas in 1932 and I began to write short stories about landing on the moon and going off to Mars," Bradbury recalls. "I worked alone, I believed in what I did and I didn't listen to anyone who doubted me."

The result has been nearly unparalleled success in the field of fantasy writing. Along with such classics as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury has penned somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 short stories, 100 television scripts and dozens of plays, radio programs and screenplays. He's taken his readers across space, through time and into those eerie parallel dimensions next door.

He fondly remembered a gig on Tucson radio:

"I loved radio and went and hung around the local station there in Tucson and told my friends I was getting a job as a radio announcer," he says, recalling how he'd get out of class at Amphi Junior High and race over the station, getting underfoot until he landed a gig on the air reading comic strips to kids on Saturday night.

"It was a perfect occupation for someone like myself, who had been collecting them since I was nine years old," he says. "And my pay was free tickets to see King Kong, Murders in the Wax Museum and The Mummy. You can't do any better than that. I've never had better income in my life since."

Bradbury told me how excited he was that Republicans had won the House of Representatives in 1994. Dave Weigel of Slate recalls Bradbury's conservative politics.

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