Driving Blind

Overview

Over the course of a long and celebrated career, Ray Bradbury has traveled many roads: cruising down country highways that wound through the unseen heart of small-town America; exploring rutted backwoods paths that led to dark and dangerous places; racing at mach-speed along shimmering celestial turnpikes as limitless and exciting as the unbound imagination. The Dean of American storytellers, Bradbury cherishes the worlds he envisions through his windshield. And with incomparable skill and an infectious wonder ...
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Overview

Over the course of a long and celebrated career, Ray Bradbury has traveled many roads: cruising down country highways that wound through the unseen heart of small-town America; exploring rutted backwoods paths that led to dark and dangerous places; racing at mach-speed along shimmering celestial turnpikes as limitless and exciting as the unbound imagination. The Dean of American storytellers, Bradbury cherishes the worlds he envisions through his windshield. And with incomparable skill and an infectious wonder undiminished by years, he shares what he sees—so that we might also appreciate the view.

DRIVING BLIND is a stunning new collection of short fiction—the first since the publication of Bradbury's critically acclaimed Quicker Than the Eye. With a steady hand on the wheel, the master once again transports us to remarkable places— and to warm and achingly familiar destinations of the heart, revealed as we've never seen them before in the brilliance of day or gloom of night. Here are unforgettable excursions to the fantastic, glorious grand tours through time and memory— interspersed with strange, unexpected side trips to the disturbing and eerie—where surprises are waiting around every curve and just beyond each mile marker.

These are new roads we have never ridden before—sprawling interstates and lush, twisting rural routes fraught with dangers and delights of all manner, shape and substance. With Ray Bradbury in the driver's seat, the journey promises to be a memorable one. Come along and enjoy the ride.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
September 1997

This author of more than 30 books is at it again, with his latest collection of short stories, Driving Blind. And once again, Ray Bradbury's stories reflect the excellence in storytelling that has made him a household name. Driving Blind is his first collection of short stories since the publication of the critically acclaimed Quicker Than the Eye, and many agree that Bradbury once again delivers.

During the course of Bradbury's illustrious career, he has traveled many roads, driving along highways and country back roads and observing the world through the windshield of his car. The "dean of American storytelling" cherishes the world he views, and he grants his readers the gift of story with unparalleled skill and incomparable imagination as he shares what he has seen on the road, so readers can also appreciate the view.

Driving Blind is a collection of short fiction that brings us to many remarkable places as well as familiar destinations. In typical Bradbury fashion, his stories cross the spectrum of setting, time, and mood. They range from the brilliance of day to the gloom of night and take readers on side trips to the disturbing and eerie. With Bradbury in the driver's seat, readers are taken down roads never ridden before — and probably never to be seen again.

Miami Herald
Remarkable...intensely told...The easiest book this year to read.
Virginian Pilot
A preeminent storyteller... An icon in American literature.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 21 stories in Bradbury's new anthology are full of sweetness and humanity. Despite bizarre actions and abstract twists, all are grounded in the everyday. Here are sketches, vignettes, strange tales, colorful anecdotes, little tragedies, hilarious lies and metaphysics too. Here are a spinster's ancient love letters and the man who wrote them, wholesome small-town folk and conniving sharpsters, a moribund circus camel, a homicidal garbage disposal and a dead man searching for mourners. Much of the text is dialogue, and it works because Bradbury excels at portraying the robust textures of American speech. He is unapologetically romantic: most of the stories have love songs in them, or thunderstorms, or both, and no one seems to need to lock their door. Only four of these tales are science fiction, and one of those sneaks very cleverly out from under the genre's strictures: in the title story, Mr. Mysterious, a black-hooded stranger, is befriended by a boy whom Norman Rockwell might have painted. The reader is led to expect a supernatural change beneath the hood, but the boy has an insight of almost Philip K. Dickian subtlety about the nature of reality and memory that allows Mr. Mysterious to redeem his troubled history with both feet on the ground, while Bradbury leaps to an ecstatically optimistic ending. A few of the entries are less finished. "Mr. Pale," the book's one outer-space story, leans heavily on certain tropes about the dilemmas of immortality without actually giving them substance. But in the face of Bradbury's craft and humanity, these are minor flaws. (Oct.) FYI: Bradbury's next novel, From the Dust Returned, is due out from Avon in 1998.
Kirkus Reviews
Arriving too late for a full review, grandmaster Bradbury's latest collection (Quicker Than the Eye, 1996, etc.) consists of 17 new tales and 4 reprints, 197497. Among the themes: gambling, WW II, a dead man who doesn't realize he's dead, sexual awakening and ghost stories, a mysterious theft, a sinister butcher and an equally sinister garbage disposal unit, a man with no face who's an expert car salesman (the title piece), circuses, moths, twins, September, a street-cleaning machine, a persecuted smart kid, Irish blarney, religion, and the death of Death.

Typically diverse, veering between sentiment and nostalgia, and set forth in the curiously mannered, modern-antique style that has become Bradbury's trademark.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380789603
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

Ray Bradbury

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Biography

Ray Bradbury is one of those rare individuals whose writing has changed the way people think. His more than 500 published works -- short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television scripts, and verse -- exemplify the American imagination at its most creative.

Once read, his words are never forgotten. His best-known and most beloved books -- The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes -- are masterworks that readers carry with them over a lifetime. His timeless, constant appeal to audiences young and old has proven him to be one of the truly classic authors of the 20th Century -- and the 21st.

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in several Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In recognition of his stature in the world of literature and the impact he has had on so many for so many years, Bradbury was awarded the National Book Foundation's 2000 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the National Medal of Arts in 2004.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview with Bradbury, he shared some fascinating facts with us:

"I spent three years standing on a street corner, selling newspapers, making ten dollars a week. I did that job every day for three hours and the rest of the time I wrote because I was in love with writing. The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love."

"I have been inspired by libraries and the magic they contain and the people that they represent."

"I hate all politics. I don't like either political party. One should not belong to them -- one should be an individual, standing in the middle. Anyone that belongs to a party stops thinking."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Leonard Douglas, William Elliott, Douglas Spaulding, Leonard Spaulding
      Ray Bradbury
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 22, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waukegan, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

James Cruesoe was in the club car of a train plummeting out of Chicago, rocking and swaying as if it were drunk, when the conductor, lurching by, glanced at the bar, gave Cruesoe a wink, and lurched on. Cruesoe listened.

Uproars, shouts and cries.

That is the sound, he thought, of sheep in panic, glad to be fleeced, or hang gliders, flung off cliffs with no wings.

He blinked.

For there at the bar, drawn to a blind source of joyous consternation, stood a cluster of men glad for highway robbery, pleased to have wallets and wits purloined.

That is to say:gamblers.

Amateur gamblers, Cruesoe thought, and rose to stagger down the aisle to peer over the shoulders of businessmen behaving like high school juniors in full stampede.

"Hey, watch! The Queen comes! She goes. Presto! Where?"

"There!" came the cry.

"Gosh," cried the dealer. "Lost my shirt! Again! Queen up, Queen gone! Where?"

He'll let them win twice, Cruesoe thought. Then spring the trap.

"There!" cried all.

"Good gravy!" shouted the unseen gambler. "I'm sunk!"

Cruesoe had to look, he yearned to see this agile vaudeville magician.

On tiptoe, he parted a few squirming shoulders, not knowing what to expect.

But there sat a man with no fuzzy caterpillar brows or waxed mustaches. No black hair sprouted from his ears or nostrils. His skull did not poke through his skin. He wore an ordinary dove-gray suit with a dark gray tie tied with a proper knot. His fingernails were clean but unmanicured. Stunning! An ordinary citizen, with the serene look of a chap about to lose at cribbage.

Ah, yes, Cruesoe thought, as the gambler shuffledhis cards slowly. That carefulness revealed the imp under the angel's mask. A calliope salesman's ghost lay like a pale epidermis below the man's vest.

"Careful, gents!" He fluttered the cards. "Don't bet too much!"

Challenged, the men shoveled cash into the furnace.

"Whoa! No bets above four bits! Judiciously, sirs!"

The cards leapfrogged as he gazed about, oblivious of his deal.

"Where's my left thumb, my right? Or are there three thumbs?"

They laughed. What a jokester!

"Con--fused, chums? Baffled? Must I lose again?"

"Yes!" all babbled.

"Damn," he said, crippling his hands. "'Damn! Where's the Red Queen? Start over!"

"No! The middle one! Flip it!"

The card was flipped.

"Ohmigod," someone gasped.

"Can't look." The gambler's eyes were shut. "How much did I lose this time?"

"Nothing," someone whispered.

"Nothing?" The gambler, aghast, popped open his eyes.

They all stared at a black card.

"Gosh," said the gambler. "I thought you had me!"

His fingers spidered to the right, another black card, then to the far left. The Queen!

"Hell," he exhaled, "why's she there? Christ, guys, keep your cash!"

"No! No!" A shaking of heads. "You won. You couldn't help it. It was just-"

"Okay. If you insist! Watch out!"

Cruesoe shut his eyes. This, he thought, is the end. From here on they'll lose and bet and lose again. Their fever's up.

"Sorry, gents. Nice try. There!"

Cruesoe felt his hands become fists. He was twelve again, a fake mustache glued to his lip and his school chums at a party and the three-card monte laid out. "Watch the Red Queen vanish!" And the kids shout and laugh as his hands blurred to win their candy but hand it back to show his love.

"One, two, three! Where can she be?"

He felt his mouth whisper the old words, but the voice was the voice of this wizard stealing wallets, counting cash on a late-night train.

"Lost again? God, fellas, quit before your wife shoots you! Okay, Ace of spades, King of clubs, Red Queen. You won't see her again!"

"No! There!"

Cruesoe turned, muttering. Don't listen! Sit! Drink! Forget your twelfth birthday, your friends. Quick!

He took one step when:

"That's three times lost, pals. I must fold my tent and . . ."

"No, no, don't leave now! We got to win the damn stuff back. Deal!"

And as if struck, Cruesoe spun about and returned to the madness.

"The Queen was always there on the left," he said.

Heads turned.

... It was there all the time," Cruesoe said, louder.

"And who are you, sir?" The gambler raked in the cards, not glancing up.

"A boy magician."

"Christ, a boy magician!" The gambler riffled the deck.

The men backed off.

Cruesoe exhaled. "I know how to do the threecard monte."

"Congratulations."

"I won't cut in, I just wanted these good men-"

There was a muted rumble from the good men.

"to know anyone can win at the three-card monte."

Looking away, the gambler gave the cards a toss.

"Okay, wisenheimer, deal! Gents, your bets. Our friend here takes over. Watch his hands."

Cruesoe trembled with cold. The cards lay waiting.

"Okay, son. Grab on!"

"I can't do the trick well, I just know how it's done."

"Ha!" The gambler stared around. "Hear that, chums? Knows how it works, but can't do. Right?"

Cruesoe swallowed. "Right. But-"

"But? Does a cripple show an athlete? A dragfoot pace the sprinter? Gents, you want to change horses out here" He glanced at the window. Lights flashed by. "halfway to Cincinnati?"

The gents, glared and muttered.

"Deal! Show us how you can steal from the poor."

Cruesoe's hands jerked back from the cards as if burnt.

"You prefer not to cheat these idiots in my presence?" the gambler asked.

Clever beast! Hearing themselves so named, the idiots roared assent.

"Can't you see what he's doing?" Cruesoe said.

"Yeah, yeah, we see," they babbled. "Even-steven. Lose some, win some. Why don't you go back where you came from?"

Cruesoe glanced out at a darkness rushing into the past, towns vanishing in night.

"Do you, sir," said the Straight-Arrow gambler, "in front of all these men, accuse me of raping their daughters, molesting their wives?"

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Table of Contents

Night Train to Babylon 1
If MGM is Killed, Who gets the Lion? 13
Hello, I Must Be Going 21
House Divided 31
Grand Theft 43
Remember Me? 55
Fee Fie Foe Fum 65
Driving Blind 79
I Wonder What's Become of Sally 101
Nothing Changes 111
That Old Dog Lying in the Dust 123
Someone in the Rain 139
Madame et Monsieur Shill 151
The Mirror 161
End of Summer 171
Thunder in the Morning 179
The Highest Branch on the Tree 191
A Woman is a Fast-Moving Picnic 203
Virgin Resusitas 217
Mr. Pale 229
That Bird that Comes Out of the Clock 239
A Brief Afterword 257
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Interviews & Essays

On Monday, September 22nd, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Ray Bradbury to discuss DRIVING BLIND.


Moderator: Welcome to the barnesandnoble.com Auditorium. We are excited to welcome Ray Bradbury, who is here to talk about his new book, DRIVING BLIND. Welcome, Ray Bradbury! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this evening to discuss your latest book.

Orson C.: I was wondering how you decide which stories to include in your collections of short stories. I mean, for DRIVING BLIND, did you write the stories for the book, or did you decide to pull together a bunch of stories for a collection like this? Thanks!

Ray Bradbury: I write short stories on impulse over the course of years. After a year or so, I look over my files, which have dozens and dozens of stories, I pull them out and look at them, then send some to my publisher. My wife reads the stories and my literary rep, Don Congdon, does the same, as does my editor. So it is a mixture of my opinions -- my wife's opinions and my editor's as well as my literary rep's.... Most of the time we pretty much agree.


Knordgren@aol.com: Are you going on a reading tour for DRIVING BLIND? Will you be coming to Chicago?

Ray Bradbury: We have no immediate plans for Chicago, but I would love to come again. When I was there last year, we had a wonderful turnout at the bookstore, and I would love to come back.


Matthew Roscoe from Auckland, New Zealand: Ray, I grew up with your stories. Even now I generally keep a copy of R IS FOR ROCKET by the bed. When I consider your prolific output over so many years and the qualities you have brought to your work, I wonder about the philosophy in your life. How do you keep the sense of wonder?

Ray Bradbury: Well, you keep the sense of wonder by writing every day of your life. If you enjoy living, it is not difficult to keep the sense of wonder. My sense of the creativity has never ceased. The big thing is that I love writing; I don't know what I would do if I couldn't write every day.


Andrew Phillips from Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada: Where do you see the area of science fiction heading in the next few years? Is there a trend you see happening in the sci-fi world? Is it good or bad?

Ray Bradbury: It is hard to analyze where it is going, because there are 200 to 300 books being published every year. In fact, I prefer not trying to keep up on sci-fi. One of the directions I would like to see is more philosophy, or some sense of the religious impulse towards the future -- in other words, questioning how we got here, where are we going, etc. To locate ourselves in this strange universe. I would like my fellow writers to get away from Dungeons and Dragons and rip-offs of "Star Wars" and "Star Trek."


Karl from Denver: How important are book reviews to you? Do you read your reviews?

Ray Bradbury: No, I don't read my reviews, because the good reviews can be good in the wrong way, and the bad ones.... I gave up on a clipping service 35 years ago. I have written the stories as honestly as possible, but they are over, and we must move on. I have the advice of my friends, my editors, and my agent, but they can only do so much. If a story goes in the wrong direction, they can give advice. The most we can do for fellow writers is to encourage them to write and to continue with their enthusiasm. Very little constructive criticism comes your way, and then it comes too late.


John Curtin from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Would you ever consider publishing as-yet-unpublished early writing on the Web, gratis, for your admiring public? Or a project ala John Updike with contributors who finish a work that you begin on the Web?

Ray Bradbury: No, I think that was a big mistake. That is not creative, it is not conscious -- it is fake intellectual. I don't see the purpose for it. Collaboration is a huge mistake. You use each other as crutches, and as a result you get two crippled people. I think it is crippling and ridiculous.


Kate Gallivan from Salt Lake City, UT: I have been assigned FAHRENHEIT 451 in my banned-books class, and so far I am really enjoying it. I was wondering how you felt about having your work banned. It seems to me like an indication of success -- though it must have been a bit frustrating, too. Thanks, Mr. Bradbury!

Ray Bradbury: "Banned" is incorrect -- they make it sound as if the works will be gone forever. They are excluded for a brief time from certain classes, and they appear and disappear on different school reading lists. It seems much too serious. Every school board has the right to select which books they read and which books they exclude, and I am not going to get upset, because every teacher has the right to teach certain books. Charles Dickens's ghost might be upset that his books are excluded because it is not a Dickens year. Edith Wharton is a great example, because she was excluded, and now, since several movies have been made, she has become a celebrity out of the cold. So you must be careful how you use the word "banned"; it is too strong. We have a very healthy society, and we have many people who correct themselves.


Jessie from Austin, TX: Silly question, which I am sure you hate answering, but where do you come up with ideas for such much new material? Thanks! I am a big fan of your work.

Ray Bradbury: It all has to do with waking at 7am and watching the ideas float around my head. I never know what will be there -- I am in a partial dream state. But there's a freedom you have in the early morning, when you are relaxed and suddenly your characters begin to talk to each other, and you jump out of bed and write down the ideas before they escape you. If I don't instantly put down the idea, it will be lost forever. All of my good ideas are in bed in the morning or in the shower or taking a nap in the afternoon, when you are relaxed. We are talking about relaxation here. I never know where an idea comes from, but when I hear a good idea, I know it is good.... The other year I heard that dogs think every day is Christmas. That is an idea I heard that I think is good; I am using it in one of my next works.


Gibson-Bradbury from Maryland: Can you describe some of the changes or additions you will be making in the screen adaptation of FAHRENHEIT 451, as well as your experiences working with Mel Gibson?

Ray Bradbury: I didn't make any changes. I tried to be faithful to my novel. I am an automatic screenwriter, because I started going to movies at a very early age, in 1925. I love movies to this day and am deeply impressed with modern movies like "The Lost World." I love movies, and I know what a motion picture should be like. When I wrote 451, I didn't realize I wrote a screenplay. When I had lunch with Sam Peckinpah (he did some wonderful motion pictures), he wanted to make a movie out of a novel of mine, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. I asked him how to do it, and he said that everything I write is cinematic. So that is what I tried to do with 451, and I hope Mel Gibson will photograph what is already there. I have never met Mel Gibson.


Amy from Columbia, SC: Hello, Mr. Bradbury. I've seen your new book at the bookstore and have yet to purchase a copy...but I will. I just wanted to know how much input you have in the covers of your books? I really like some and don't care that much for others. How much say did you have in the cover of DRIVING BLIND, which I think looks really neat?

Ray Bradbury: I had very little input on that cover, but I have designed many of my other covers. I think of a metaphor and draw a sketch and give it to my publisher to come back with samples. I did the original cover of FAHRENHEIT 451. I was working with Joe Mugniani. I saw a figure and worked with him to make a character which looks like Don Quixote, then put him on a pile of books, so you have the burning book beneath him and the newspapers catching fire. I gave that to Joe, and he made a great cover for the original of 451. Same thing with THE OCTOBER COUNTRY. I don't claim to be an artist, but I do know design, I collect illustrations, and I love to work with artists. So 50 percent of the jacket has been designed by me.


Tim Stewart from Calgary, Canada: How do you respond to some people's feeling that you are one of the most influential writers of our time?

Ray Bradbury: Well, you can't respond to that without being an egotist. It is enough if young writers come to you and call you Papa. It is glorious to see what I have been able to accomplish in a role as a teacher, so the final response is gratification and great pleasure.


Wade Werner from North Olmsted, Ohio: Do you have an opinion of what English teachers should be stressing in classes today? How do you feel about the latest emphasis on preparing for state and national testing and how it infringes on the regular curriculum?

Ray Bradbury: The testing is too late. It should be done back in the third grade, by the teachers, not the national government. It should all happen in the schools and the towns. The teachers should be responsible for themselves -- the teachers have to pull up their socks. I try to encourage third- and fourth-grade teachers to apply pressure on kindergarten and first-grade teachers to have the children able to read by the time they reach a couple levels higher. When I was a child, we could all read by the first grade. I don't see national testing doing any good. They should be teaching to make sure that everyone has a knowledge of spelling and grammar and be open to all literature. I had a teacher that read my stories, and I still have her comments one story, which said, "I don't know what you are doing, but keep at it!" She encouraged me and became a great friend for 30 to 40 years. She was a great teacher! And I was the sole person writing science fiction at Los Angeles High School. The teacher should encourage, and judge not the subject matter but the material itself.


Chaseling from Amarillo, Texas: Mr. Bradbury, thanks for contributing to the joy of my life through your writing. My question is, Do you think the Internet will help to raise the literacy rate?

Ray Bradbury: Not for a moment -- it can't be done. It has to be done by teachers. The Internet and computers are playing with toys.


Paulo Oom from Portugal: I'm sorry if this is somehow off the topic, but I would like to know, concerning THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES 1) There's a theatrical adaptation for this. Was it made by Ray Bradbury himself? 2) In this adaptation there is a chapter which not in the original CHRONICLES ("The House of Usher II," based on Edgar Allan Poe's stories). Where was this taken from (in Ray Bradbury's work), and why isn't it in the CHRONICLES? Thanks.

Ray Bradbury: It is in various editions It was in the American edition, then was taken out of the English editions, having to do with length; the story was included in the States version that I wrote some years ago and produced on the stage. People can order the Dramatic version through the Dramatic Publishing Company in Illinois; it is still at 311 Washington Street, Woodstock, Illinois 60098. You can get many of my plays through them. I have been doing a lot of theater work recently.


Al Mejia from Melbourne, FL: Mr. Bradbury, thank you for this opportunity. I am such a big fan. I have a question regarding my favorite book, DANDELION WINE. I remember reading somewhere that this book was semiautobiographical, because you were raised in Illinois. Is this true?

Ray Bradbury: Yes, it is! My whole background is in that book, all my memories. I went back to my hometown and stuck my head in the town barbershop, and the town barber threw his scissors on the ground and said, "I was waiting for you to come back for 40 years." He asked me to sit in the chair and told me about my childhood until I was three. And he told me about making dandelion wine back in my hometown. Well, I sat in the barbershop and tears rolled down my cheeks; he was verifying what I wasn't that sure about.


Steven Schowiak from Dallas, TX: Ray, I also have been a fan since childhood! Thanks for all of the great reading through the years! My favorite short story is, I believe, "The Sound Machine," about the guy who invented a machine that can pick up "sounds" made by plants, especially when they were being cut or picked by humans. For some reason that story has stuck with me for 30 years, and I have never forgotten it.

Is there a theme or common thread throughout the s: I think the first story you referred to is not mine. It is by John Cheever, and it was included in an anthology that I edited. I am flattered, because I am a great admirer of John Cheever. I was in Dallas last year and hope to be back in the near future. No, there is no theme that I know about; if there is, other people will have to discover it.

Andy L. from Allentown, PA: Hello, Mr. Bradbury, I am a big fan of your books. What are your views on censorship?

Ray Bradbury: Censorship only occurs in a society that says you can't publish a story. We don't live in a society that has censorship, we really don't.


Nick from St. Paul, MN: What do you make of the work of "cyberpunk" authors like William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson?

Ray Bradbury: I have never read them, so I can't comment.


Megan from Maryland: Is it possible to see your play FAHRENHEIT 451 anywhere? What is your favorite of the books you have written? Do you have a favorite author? When did you start writing?

Ray Bradbury: 451 was on the stage in New York in December as an opera, and it has had productions all around the country. Just keep your eyes peeled. I have no favorites among my books or my stories, because they are all my children, and I can't pick a favorite child -- my current book is always my favorite. They are works of love. George Bernard Shaw is my all-time favorite author. His advice to young writers and his criticism of music and his debates are examples of being an all-around genius. He was great not by writing great about great things but by keeping a sense of humor. That was his special talent.


Mike Wheatley from Hamden, CT: I recently saw you interviewed on the Discovery channel talking about the future of Mars exploration. Do you have hope that we will terraform Mars and that the MARTIAN CHRONICLES will become reality?

Ray Bradbury: I certainly hope so! There are very few enthusiasts among politicians in any country of the world. Very few of our presidents gave a damn about it. What we have to do is to pick a small fight or quibble with Red China; then we will get up and go there. We need competition to get us working. Great works have been produced in a competition. Like the explorers who discovered the USA -- they were in great competition to find land. Only one of the explorers, Verrazano, landed on what became the North American continent,; he landed at Kitty Hawk, before the Wright brothers took off into space -- a wonderful metaphor there.


Chaseling from Texas: What books are currently on your nightstand? Thanks for years of enjoyment.

Ray Bradbury: I am reading Honor Tracy's book THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW PATH, which came out 40 years ago. She writes about the Irish like nobody else can. You might find her books in used bookstores. I go back to her writing all the time. When I lived in Ireland, I fell in love with the Irish and their sense of humor, lifestyle, etc. As you probably notice, almost every author that I read is dead, including Lauren Eisely, who wrote a whole series on anthropology. I read one of his first essays in Harper's magazine, and I wrote him a fan letter asking him to write a book (I still have a letter he sent back to me). He then wrote two dozen books.


Gord S. from Toronto, Canada: Loved your TV series. Everybody is jumping on the sci-fi and "X-Files" bandwagon this season. Any plans to give TV another try?

Ray Bradbury: Well, 65 shows is plenty for me. Writing them and casting them was great. I had complete control for the first time in my life, and it was wonderful. Tom Cotter was a wonderful producer. I have no plans at this time to do anything further on TV, but in four or five years, we will see.


Aaron Hamer from NBJH Dist. 28: Our English class recently read an outstanding story, "Sound of Thunder," and we have many questions to ask you about it. For one, we noticed that one of the characters, Mr. Travis, has an unusual name and may be related to Tavisty. Is that so? Why'd you pick a butterfly to be stepped on? Thanks for listening.--Aaron Hamer and Mrs. Hodgin's class

Ray Bradbury: No, Travis is not related, and I picked the butterfly because of its beauty and the terrible irony of its being stepped on....


Mike Whalen from New Orleans: I've read your ZEN book and keep it with me for daily encouragement. Are there any other stories/essays/directives you've written about writing since ZEN's publish? What are they?

Ray Bradbury: YESTERMORROW, which is a book of essays on city planning, world fairs, animated museums, etc. I have been very interested in World Fairs and museums, so I created a whole series of essays to create ideal towns of the future. The book is still available from Capra Press in Santa Barbara.


Barry L. Edwards from Nashville: Ray, do you think there are any Greentowns left? DANDELION WINE has such a wonderful, warm spot in my heart, but I fear the innocence of youth is a dying state. Any thoughts? Thanks for all your wonderful yarns.

Ray Bradbury: There are a lot of places -- even my hometown in Illinois. There are towns across America where the towns have unity, a lot of the small towns that are growing up outside of the cities. There are lots of great places left.


Moderator: Thank you very much for chatting with us this evening. Any closing comments?

Ray Bradbury: No, except that I hope people reading this material will be inspired to be creative. Thank you very much!


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