Sunday, June 17, 2012


Ray Bradbury passed away several days ago now so it is not news (I know, and you thought this blog was the place to catch up on the very latest news ... crack kills brain cells, just saying) Still, it would be remiss of me not to make some mention of this author

I can say with all honesty that Ray Bradbury was one of my earliest and most powerful influences on me as a writer. Sytlistically Ray and I parted ways many years ago but I owe a great deal to this author and his long and important body or work.

As a writer, when I look at other artists who have influenced me, I want to distill what form that inspiration takes. How did they inspire me and even if I have left that author behind, so to speak, why do they continue to influence me.

The answer is rather simple. I learned from that author, they taught me something that may still resonate in my work to this day. So that being said here are some of the things I learned from Ray:


I don't really think of Ray Bradbury as a horror writer but damn, the man could put the cold heebie jeebies down your spine. He didn't do this with ick oozing aliens or ancient monsters from another dimension, he did it with everyday mundane concepts, the stuff that made you look at the world differently from there on after.

One of the best examples is the story The Small Assassin first published in 1946. It is about a mother convinced that her newborn baby wants her and her husband dead. Everyone, from the husband to the doctor, thinks the mother is delusional (the term post partem depression is never used but that's what it is) and discount her "hysteria". Then the mother dies from an odd accident. Then the husband commits suicide but the doctor concludes that there was no way the man could have killed himself in such a fashion. In the last scene in the story the doctor enters the house where the baby is but before doing so, fetches an object from his bag. The object is a scalpel ...

Another example is The Fruit At The Bottom of the Bowl. In the story a man kills someone in their home. I don't recall the motive of the murder but that really is irrelevant in this story. After the murder the killer realizes he has to cover his tracks so he begins wiping off his prints; off the bannister, the mirror, the table, and as the cops investigate because he's been in there so long, he gleefully wipes the fruit at the bottom of the bowl ..


This sounds like a "duh" moment doesn't it, like: Duh, he was a writer of course he used words. Yes, of course, all writers use words. All hunters use rifles, but it doesn't mean all of them will be enjoying a venison steak this evening.

Ray chronologically began his professional writing career in the pulp period of sci fi but there was nothing pulp about his writing. Ray could some times be a touch florid but what he brought to his stories was a sense of poetry. Ray's Mars is a dream place, a world that exists between what humans see and a lost world that may or not be a dream

He was one of those sci fi writers who really didn't care how we got into space but why we went there and what it does to our minds, our hearts, our psyches. I think one of the thing the short story format does for an author is make him incredibly aware of his words; what are the best phrases to express high ideas in a short form. My training in copywriting usually means I use very short, strict words to express my ideas.

Ray Bradbury was a poet. His word choice tended to be lyrical.

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