Picked up a copy of the William F. Nolan edited "3 to the Highest Power," which features novellas/novelettes by Bradbury, Sturgeon, and Chad Oliver. In his intro to the Bradbury piece ("The Lost City of Mars"), Nolan mentions that Bradbury wrote and sold a story to Esquire called "Christmas on Mars" but that it had not been published. Has anyone heard anything about this story? Was it perhaps published in the 40 or so years since "3 to the Highest Power" came out? Has anyone read it?
Which brings me to a bigger question: What is the likelihood, I wonder, of a new collection of rare or unpublished Bradbury stories seeing the light of day?
Wow. Not all editions of The Martian Chronicles are the same (some are not even called The Martian Chronicles, but The Silver Locusts), and none contain all the Martian stories. A few years back a volume appeared containing nearly all of them, but as the quality left something to be desired (poor binding) and the cost was prohibitive I have never even seen it. Although every once in awhile a previously unpublished or at least uncollected Martian story turns up in a newer Bradbury collection, I had never seen or heard of this story. You must have discovered one of the all-time pieces of super trivia!
According to Jon Eller's article "The Body Eclectic: Sources of Ray Bradbury's MARTIAN CHRONICLES" (included in the Harold Bloom-edited book RAY BRADBURY):
"Christmas on Mars" is a 6-page typescript. Eller repeats Nolan's assertion and adds that it was sold "probably in the early 1950s" and that it was "probably never intended for THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES".
Much of Jon Eller & Bill Touponce's book RAY BRADBURY: THE LIFE OF FICTION is viewable on Google Books, including a lot of the appendices. The bibliography here, although around ten years old, remains the most detailed one available - and it lists a number of unpublished works. Click here to see the references to "Christmas on Mars".
From my own searching through the documents received into the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in 2013, I would say there are probably a few additional stories and fragments yet to be properly catalogued.
A copy of this typescript (8 pages, rather than the 6 pages listed by Jon Eller) was sold on eBay last year, with apparent aunthentication from Donn Albright, Ray's official bibliographer.
The eBay listing includes photos of some of the pages:
Another rarity to note is that only about five Bradbury stories feature winter and only about two deal with Christmas--obviously far from his favorite holiday.
You read my mind, Dandelion. I have often wondered about this. Ray wrote quite a lot about Christ, wrote beautifully about snow, had Santa show up in two or three stories, was a life-long collector of toys, said that 'A Christmas Carol' was his favourite story--and yet he wrote very little specifically about Christmas. This puzzles me. He could have done wonderful things with the imagery and metaphors of the Season. Can you imagine a collection of 'Christmas in Greentown' stories? Here's hoping 'Christmas on Mars' becomes available. Two of my favourite things combined!
When I first called Bradbury I asked him specifically about why he wrote so little about winter, which I remembered as much and about as fondly as summer from my own childhood, and about his religious beliefs. About all he said was, regarding winter, "It was cold," regarding God, "We're all one." Not very forthcoming!
About Christmas, the family were not terribly well-off before the Depression and perhaps Christmas wasn't much fun during. I do have Ray's one published work describing a Christmas where he built up his hopes, had them dashed, but was cheered when his family did their best to salvage the holiday. My guess, and he'd probably say I was wrong, as he generally did--Fourth of July and Halloween were about "hopes fulfilled" and Christmas was more about "hopes dashed."
Yes, I can see Bradbury producing such a classic as Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" and possibly even Jean Shepard's A Christmas Story if he ever put himself to it!
Thanks for the informative response, Phil!
Dandelion, you mentioned how rare it was for ray to write about winter and Christmas. That was one thing that struck me, as well. Like skmkee, I'm a big fan of the holiday, and always thought Ray could have done some really great stuff with it.
You mentioned a couple of stories Ray wrote that deal with Christmas. I must admit, that's two more than I was aware of. What were the titles and where are they to be found? I'd love to check them out.
"The Gift" (outer space), "The Wish" (in a cemetery), and "Bless Me, Father" mentions winter and possibly Christmas--pretty unconventional fare for the most part!
Thanks! I'll have to check them out. I sort of remember "The Gift." The other two I'm sure I've read but they aren't coming to mind. I'll go hunt them down.
Also, "The Island" from The Cat's Pajamas is in winter but not Christmas.
Also, one of Ray's last published stories was "Dear Santa", which appeared for the first time in the November, 2012 issue of STRAND MAGAZINE and which, to my knowledge, has not appeared elsewhere. Here is a link to an article about the story:
...and of course, this:
Perhaps there is a Ray Bradbury Christmas book.... While Ray wrote little specifically about Christmas, if the concept was extended to include stories set in winter, and with the Christmas tradition of ghost stories in mind, some of these were also included-- a slim volume could be compiled. Here's what I've come up with so far:
2."Christmas on Mars"
4."The Wish" ( A winter ghost tale)
5."Forgive me Father" (takes place on Christmas Eve.)
6."The Island" (takes place in winter)
7."The Banshee" (A winter-or there-abouts- ghost tale)
8."Bless me, Father, for I have Sinned" (takes place on Xmas eve.)
9."The Terrible Conflagration Up at the Place" (Winter)
10."The Cold Wind and the Warm" (Winter)
11."Henry the Ninth" (Christmas Eve)
12."The Exile" (A passage with characters form 'A Christmas Carol')
13."The Beggar on O'Connel Bridge" (Winter)
14."The Best of All Possible Worlds"(Winter)
17."The Witch Door" (A winter ghost tale)
18."The Bread of Beggars, The Wine of Christ (Poem, Dublin, Christmas 1953)
19."Ghost at the Window, Hive on the Hearth" (Winter poem)
20."Green Shadows, White Whale" (an excerpt about Christmas in Ireland)
21. "Christus Apollo" (Poem, several lines re Xmas)
22. "Which Shall it Be?" (A poem with subtitle: 'Holiday Greetings 1998 from Maggie & Ray Bradbury)
23. "Dogs Think That Everyday is Christmas" (Not sure about this one; haven't read it.)
24. One of Ray's interviews re his love for "A Christmas Carol" and his letter to Alastair Sim.
25. "Merry Christmas 2116." ( A Christmas Play--a google search found me this one:
Perhaps there are unpublished fragments or even full stories about the Season. Of the known ones, I'm sure I've missed some; I know there is a story other than "The Exile" wherein Santa makes an appearance on Mars...(Anyone?) I also seem to recall that Ray wrote an essay about Christmas. I seem to recall some Xmas recollections in one of Sam Weller's books. I would not be surprised if a few tidbits show up among Ray's various transcribed interviews.
Finally, I understand that Ray created many charming, original artwork Christmas cards; I envision repros of these scattered throughout.
So there's my imagined Bradbury Christmas Book. What think ye? Revisions? Corrections? Addition/subtractions?This message has been edited. Last edited by: skmckee,
-from a Christmas Greeting 2007:
Dogs think that everyday is Christmas
They lap it up with their necktie tongues
Devour it with wide bright eyes
That say "Look at that weather
Try it on
Just my size."
They lean out car windows
Like drunks at bars snuffing gin
While drivers in the same cars,
They mark each tree in passing
Just to let the world know
"I was here, do you see, I was here!"
From the start of a glorious season
To the end of a marvelous year.
All smiles, with guidon-staff tail wag
They silently shout, "Gee Whiz!"
Because dogs wake each day to Christmas
And, matter of fact,
I'll be damned,
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