I haven't seen anything on the website about this, so maybe nobody knows . . .
Five months ago a friend told me a new edition of John Collier's stories had been published with an introduction by RB. Maybe it's been noticed I've been pushing Collier's stories with maniac enthusiasm --- so to hear that one of my two favorite short-story writers was praising the other was a happy confluence of personalities. It was only justice.
I'd recently re-read RB's 1951 intro to "Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow" and recalled that it left me feeling rather empty and disappointed when I read it as a kid. Where was the RB I had come to know? He was not in that intro. I was looking for his personal essence. It wasn't there.
Re-reading it, now, I laughed inwardly. It was still empty and disappointing, but now I saw why. Ray was trying to impersonate his own idea of a Literary Man. He was young, he'd been writing these goofy stories about Mars, and, unexpectedly, the N.Y. literary establishment had opened his arms to him. "My son! You're one of us!" Clifton Fadiman and Orville Prescott had said nice things about him in print. An editor suggested he 'present' a book of fantasies.
I will bet you that Ray hadn't read even half of them. Ray's background was SF and Wierd Tales. These stories were mostly from people Ray had probably never encountered. The editor send him down a bunch and said, "See what you think of these." Ray obligingly read them and liked them. His name was new, and 'hot'; it would sell a collection. He did his best to be a proper son of the literary establishment. He impersonated a pipe-smoking man of deep cultural attainments. Only . . . he wasn't one. He was the crazy on roller skates, gone ape over rocket ships. Thus the hollowness, the absence of Ray. He was trying to flesh out, in print, an idea he did not wholly grasp, maybe did not even altogether like.
I haven't read his new intro to John Collier. But I would bet that in 50+ years, he's found his own true center of gravity, and this intro will have the real RB in it.
If that doesn't get you to read Collier, I don't know what will.
My hard-bound copy of F451, published in 2003 by Simon & Schuster, has a "new" introduction to the book. In Bradbury's words:
"When the first version of the novel was finished, I hardly knew what I had done. I knew it was crammed with metaphors, but the word metaphor had not occured to me at that time in my life. It was only later in time when I got to know the word and realized that my capacity for collecting metaphors was so complete."
Maybe that's why his intro h.rousseau talked about seemed empty - he hadn't grasped his full abilities as a writer.
On an aside, his book "Zen in the Art of Writing" is a collection of intros or short essays dealing with creativity and writing, and most of them are fantastic.
I remember reading that Ray never reads sci-fi or fantasy. He called it an incestuous act.
In our first real conversation, I asked Ray if he were influenced by H. H. Munro "Saki" and he said no, it was "all John Collier."
I am so pleased to see this thread. I discovered John Collier after I had discovered Ray's works in the late '50s. Please, fans of Ray, do yourself a favor and get a copy of "Fancies and Goodnights" by John Collier. That will supply the missing connection between the works of the two writers. Collier also wrote "My Monkey Wife" available in reprint, very funny. He wrote "Green Thoughts" which, I am sure, was the inspiration for what ultimately became "The Little Shop of Horrors". I highly recommend Collier's work to any fan of Ray Bradbury.
patrask--I took your advice and went to Amazon.com and ordered a used copy of Fancies and Goodnights. While I was at it I picked up a used copy of Cat's Pajamas. The grand total for the two books was $12.99. I can't wait to read both of them! I've picked up so many great reading suggestions from this board, and I really appreciate it. Now if only I could take off work for a year to catch up on all of them!
RB did the introduction for FOUNDATION'S FRIENDS- A tribute to Isaac Asimov. It was a very brief, yet very heart-felt testimonial to The Good Doctor.
In it he said:
"One night two years ago, I dreamed I was Isaac Asimov. Arising the next day, it was noon before my wife convinced me that I should not run for President."
Only the NEW edition, also listed on Amazon, has the introduction by Ray Bradbury. I think the price was around $10 for the paperback. Wonderful reading and you will see much of Ray in the stories.
Also, RB intro in Memory of a Murder, early pulp s.s. collection, gives great accolades to Leigh Brackett. Maybe his first run-ins with his muses?!
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