Ray Bradbury passed away Tuesday at the age of 91. Bradbury was inspired to write at the age of 12 when a carnival magician tapped him with a sword and said “live forever!” Director and Bradbury fan Steven Spielberg said yesterday “In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal.”
To most people Bradbury conjures up the classic American anti-censorship novel Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles as his most popular works, along with The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. But if you really want to see the broad scope of Bradbury’s work, you could hardly find any creative works more engaging than his TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater and his thick compilation book The Stories of Ray Bradbury or the revised version Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. It is telling that he has a book that highlights one hundred of his best stories. Stories like “The Casket,” a tale of feuding brothers gone very, very wrong that was adapted for screen on Bradbury Theater, or “A Sound of Thunder,” where a misstep on a time traveling hunting trip has terrible ramifications for the future.
Six seasons, from 1985 to 1992, of the popular Canadian series The Ray Bradbury Theater provide a “story of the week” much like Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and the Canadian Friday the 13th TV series. Always creative, each episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater focused on the fantastical, the magical, often a mysterious item inspired by Bradbury’s own possessions, many written by or derived from classic Bradbury tales. In one standout episode, “Great Wide World Over There,” Tyne Daly stars as a woman on an isolated farm with a much older husband. Creepiness, and sometimes outright horror permeates Bradbury’s stories.
Bradbury saw himself as a fantasy writer, and believe audiences miscategorized his works like this as science fiction.
Luckily, The Ray Bradbury Theater is easy to find to catch up on episodes. It’s on the list of series available from Netflix and available for sale at online stores like Amazon.com.
Ray Bradbury was incredibly prolific. In his introduction to The Stories of Ray Bradbury he describes his writing regimen when he was writing daily, rewriting, then sending off a manuscript every week to a would-be publisher.
His efforts were not only plentiful; they were creative and varied.
Although he will be missed, his legacy lives on in the works of a generation of fantasy and science fiction writers whom he inspired.