RIP Ray Bradbury

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Jun 072012

Ray Bradbury, one of my favorite authors and a man whose writing has influenced mine passed away yesterday.  He wrote science fiction, horror, and mystery and can be considered one of the prominent authors who brought science fiction into mainstream reading.  I hope to do the same for gay fiction!

Bradbury, however, resisted the moniker of science fiction writer.  The following is one of my favorite quotes.  “First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time — because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”  I love the analogy to Greek mythology, one of my favorite subjects growing up.

This radio broadcast of Bradbury’s story, Mars is Heaven, was recommended by someone in one of my Yahoo groups.  It is incredible and I urge you to take half an hour and listen:

 Posted by at 8:39 pm

Blog 42: Life, the Universe, and Everything

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Feb 292012

Since this is Blog 42, I will dedicate it to a book and its author who have influenced both me and my friends even though I have never read the book.  I sheepishly admit that I was never able to get through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by British writer Douglas Adams although a great majority of my friends love and quote it.

In the novel, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings insist on having the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, which was specially built for said purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42.

When I don’t know the answer to a question, I answer 42 because it isthe Ultimate Answer!

Deception Island

 Posted by at 6:18 pm

There And Back Again

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Jun 122011

My first experience with any of Tolkien’s works was when my fourth grade teacher read us The Hobbit. I loved every minute of that reading. I was swept away to a magical world of dragons, wizards and adventure.

The Hobbit follows the undertakings of Bilbo Baggins, a home-loving hobbit, and 13 dwarves to reclaim a dragon’s hoard. I used to be able to recite all the dwarves’ names! After many wild and wondrous adventures, the story reaches its climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters reappear. While there are strong themes of growth, heroism and conflict in the story, I was more attracted to the incredible setting of Middle Earth and the fantastic events in the journey of an almost-unwitting hero.

My favorite characters, though, were not the protagonists. I have to admit that I never could empathize with dwarves or hobbits.  Gandalf the Wizard and the elves enthralled me. In the story, the elves are cast more as villains until the very end but that did not diminish their appeal. They are beautiful, slender and graceful while still being deadly combatants in battle!

I’ve been hooked for life and can’t wait for the new Hobbit movie from Peter Jackson.


 Posted by at 10:43 pm

Commentary on The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

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May 052011

One of my all-time favorite authors is Ray Bradbury.  I love just about everything he’s written and I admire how his writing seems to jump off the pages and almost become a movie in my mind.  I’ve tried to mimic that style.

In The Veldt a family has just purchased a house with the latest technology and machines that do everything. Even from just the early description, Bradbury’s opinion on this can be seen. Too much reliance on technology is not a blessing.

The nursery in the book is able to connect with the children telepathically and can create any place they imagine. The children soon do nothing but live in the worlds created by the nursery. Here I see Bradbury pointing to the dangers of losing touch with reality. Fantasy can and should be pretty and it is a nice escape but it can never replace the real world. When it does, trouble looms on the horizon.

The parents eventually change their minds and decided to eliminate their reliance on technology.  The children beg their parents to let them have one last visit to the nursery and the parents relent. Any parent can empathize with children wanting just a little more of something they’ve been allowed to have for a long time. Bradbury implies that the parents should have refused. I disagree. The request is not unreasonable as written.

When the parents come to the nursery to retrieve the children, the kids lock them in from the outside. This is where it starts to unravel logically for me.  How did the parents not see the children outside the nursery?  What type of nursery has a lock on it?

SPOILER ALERT: No matter how much you stretch the limits of science fiction and, more importantly, the parameters set up within the story, the death of the parents is implausible. There is no way that the house or the nursery could have created real lions that would have actually eaten the parents. There are precise laws on the subjects of physics, matter and spontaneous generation. Nowhere in the story is this addressed to make the ending credible. Despite this logic flaw, The Veldt is an incredible story with vivid descriptions and an important message.


 Posted by at 9:05 pm