I am ashamed to say that it wasn't until a couple months after Ray Bradbury's death that I spent significant time with his work. Prior to that, the only work of his that I had knowingly absorbed was the short story "The Veldt," and probably some Twilight Zone episodes.
At the time of Bradbury's death, I was working as a receptionist at Columbia College Chicago's Fiction Writing Department. One of the faculty members, Sam Weller, was Bradbury's close friend and biographer, and the office was inundated with phone calls the day the news broke. Remarkably, Weller immediately allowed journalists to contact him directly.
Two months later, I found myself quite idle at work as the summer semester wrapped up. I decided to plow through some books, and first up were a couple of Joe Meno's books, who is also a CCC Fiction faculty member. When I was done with The Great Perhaps and Hairstyles of the Damned, I was browsing through the school library and decided to dig back into some classics that I had neglected to read. I found myself in front of Bradbury's collection, and grabbed Fahrenheit 451 (large print edition - the only English copy), Green Shadows, White Whale, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Of the three, Something Wicked This Way Comes gripped me the tightest, with the fantastical horror of an evil circus, the stark contrast of darkness and light between the two boys, and the father's quest to make something of himself. The story begins on October 23, and runs through Halloween. Right about now the story is only developing. Fortune cookie: watch out for strange men trying to put lightning rods on your house.
I quit my job at the Fiction Department after two solid years in September, and funnily enough I attended my first fiction reading the next week. It was a celebration of the life of Ray Bradbury and the release of a short story compilation, called Shadow Show, which pays tribute to the late author. Weller and his co-editor (and fellow CCC faculty member) Mort Castle hosted, bringing three of the contributors along. Mention was made several times of Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder," which I suddenly realized was a favorite of mine, though I had read it and forgot who the author was.
In "A Sound of Thunder," some men use a time machine to go back and hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Shadow Show contributor Jay Bonansinga made mention at the reading of how his pre-teen sons are so jaded by technology and media that nothing grabs their attention, let alone scares them, but that his bedtime reading of "A Sound of Thunder," specifically the description of the T. Rex, had them staring at him in wide-eyed terror. Bonansinga's own contribution to Shadow Show, called "Heavy," was
tense and hilarious, thanks to the fitting voices he prescribed
to the two characters- an entertainment agent and his "assassin."
I was obsessed with dinosaurs when I was three or four years old, and I insisted on watching Jurassic Park when it came out on VHS around that time. Despite my parents' warnings that it might be scary, I demanded that I get to watch it. I absorbed every second of it, and then I preceded to have nightmares about dinosaur invasions of my neighborhood and house. It didn't help that I had a holographic poster of T. Rex in front of my bed when I was in elementary school.
This playlist was inspired by the creepiness of Something Wicked This Way Comes and the intensity of "A Sound of Thunder." Rest In Peace, Ray.