Falling in love…

June 13, 2020

When I was seven years old, I started going to the library and I took out ten books a week. The librarian looked at me and asked, “What are you doing?”

I said, “What do you mean?”

And she said, “You can’t possibly read all of those before they are due back.”

I said, “Yes, I can.”

And I came back the next week for ten more books.

In doing so, I told that librarian, politely, to get out of my way and let me happen. That’s what books do. They are the building blocks, the DNA, if you will, of you.

Think of everything you have ever read, everything you have ever learned from holding a book in your hands and how that knowledge shaped you and made you who you are today.

Looking back now on all those years, to when I first discovered books at the library, I see that I was simply falling in love. Day, after day, after glorious day, I was falling in love with books.

The library in Waukegan, Illinois, the town where I grew up, was a temple to the imagination. It was built by Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropist, who built libraries all across this great land. I learned to read by studying the comic strips in the Chicago Tribune. But I fell in love with reading at that old Carnegie library. It was this library that served as the inspiration for the library in my 1962 novel, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

Ray Bradbury
The Book And The Butterfly
(Introduction to: The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012)

On the cliff

May 3, 2020

Science-fiction balances you on the cliff. Fantasy shoves you off.

Ray Bradbury
Introduction to The Circus of Dr. Lao (1956)

One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless shore and said, “We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I’ll make one. I’ll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; I’ll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I’ll make me a sound and an apparatus and they’ll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.

Ray Bradbury
The Fog Horn

The end of life on earth

April 27, 2020

‘Life on Earth never settled down to doing anything very good. Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in a mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets; emphasising the wrong items, emphasising machines instead of how to run the machines. Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth…That’s what we ran away from.’

Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles

The fence we walked between the years
Did balance us serene;
It was a place half in the sky where
In the green of leaf and promising of peach
We’d reach our hands to touch and almost touch the sky,
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘Twould teach us, not to, never to be dead.

We ached, and almost touched that stuff;
Our reach was never quite enough.
If only we had taller been,
And touched God’s cuff, His hem,
We would not have to go with them
Who’ve gone before,
Who, short as we, stood tall as they could stand
And hoped by stretching tall to keep their land,
Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul.
But they, like us, were standing in a hole.

O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall
Across the Void, across the Universe and all?
And, measured out with rocket fire,
At last put Adam’s finger forth
As on the Sistine Ceiling,
And God’s hand come down the other way
To measure Man and find him Good,
And Gift him with Forever’s Day?
I work for that.

Short man, Large dream. I send my rockets forth between my ears,
Hoping an inch of Good is worth a pound of years.
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall:
We’ve reached Alpha Centauri!
We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!

Ray Bradbury

Mirror Maze

June 12, 2018

Stay away from the maze where winter slept…

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes

A witch

The Witch who might draw skulls and bones in the dust, then sneeze it away…

…so she could feel their souls disinhibit, reinhabit their tremulous nostrils. Each soul, a vast warm fingerprint , felt different, she could roil it in her hand like clay; smelled different, Will could hear her snuffing his life away; tasted different, she savoured them with her raw-gummed mouth, her puff-adder tongue; sounded different, she stuffed their souls in one ear, tissued them out the other!

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes

try my hand at a novel

January 30, 2018

EMILIA DZIUBAK

I was always into horror when I was a kid – the old American International pictures, the big-bug movies, then the Hammer stuff. And of course the books, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll, Frankenstein, Shirley Jackson’s novels, and the great pulp writers like Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Richard Matheson. I even briefly liked Lovecraft, though I find him utterly unreadable now. When I decided that I wanted to get out of writing for magazines try my hand at a novel, King and Straub and a number of other really fine writers were already well into their stride and I was reading them a lot, and the movies had become a lot edgier and in-your-face, with stuff like The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the like, and I thought it was a very exciting period to be writing horror. So it was natural that I gravitate there with my first one, Off Season.

Jack Ketchum
Interview with Rob Hart for Litreactor, 27th April 2012

Understanding time

August 2, 2017

My dear, you never will understand time, will you? You’re always trying to be the person you were instead of the person you are tonight.

Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine

skull-and-hand

The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain. They set their clocks by deathwatch beetles, and thrive the centuries. They were the men with the leather-ribbon whips who sweated up the Pyramids seasoning it with other people’s salt and other people’s cracked hearts. They coursed Europe on the White Horses of the Plague. They whispered to Caesar that he was mortal, then sold daggers at half-price in the grand March sale. Some must have been lazing clowns, foot props for emperors, princes, and epileptic popes. Then out on the road, Gypsies in time, their populations grew as the world grew, spread, and there was more delicious variety of pain to thrive on. The train put wheels under them and here they run down the log road out of the Gothic and baroque; look at their wagons and coaches, the carving like medieval shrines, all of it stuff once drawn by horses, mules, or, maybe, men.

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes