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Ray in the Fanzine SPEARHEAD
I recently picked up a copy of a fanzine called SPEARHEAD. It was the third issue of the fanzine, and dated August of 1948. Apparently, in its second issue, there was an announcement of a forthcoming article about Ray Bradbury to appear in that third issue. Ray obviously saw that announcement and took in it good humor, because a letter from one Ray Bradbury appeared in that third issue, which read in part: "I was very much intrigued with your announcement of the article in the next issue...which reads as follows: 'You read Ray Bradbury; are you unhealthy?' Enclosed, is a dime, ten cents. Please send your issue No. 3 to me as soon as it is ready. I should like to know if I AM unhealthy. I've been reading Ray Bradbury for twelve years or so, but the last time I checked in the mirror I saw a pink-cheeked, blond, five foot eleven chap, weighing in at 195 pounds. Frankly, I feel fine...."

In fact, the article that appeared about Ray in that third issue of SPEARHEAD was very complementary. Entitled "RAY BRADBURY: an appraisal", the author noted, in part: ...he [Bradbury] has developed a fresh and original style and one that is quite effective; he writes probably the finest prose being published in fantasy today." The author went on to write: "...Bradbury's appeal is very nearly universal, and for that reason I expect that eventually he will become a very great writer." He went on to say: "The one thing which I believe shows his greatest promise is his ability to catch the feel of life and put it on paper. The terror and loneliness of the night; the sadness of fall; all the feelings that occur briefly and poignantly and are forgotten almost instantly --- all the impressions that all of us feel, these Bradbury can capture. And that is something that very few writers accomplish."

Considering that in 1948 Ray had been writing and been published professionally for only a few years, I would say that the author of that article was very perceptive!

Here is a link to the cover of the fanzine to which I have been referring:

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As the above post demonstrates, Ray Bradbury never forgot his roots as a fan, and always encouraged others in their writing efforts. This is further indicated in a letter published in the June, 1962 issue of the fanzine HKLPLOD (issue #2). Ray apparently was sent a copy of the first issue of that fan magazine, and wrote its publisher a letter, which was printed in the second issue. That letter reads as follows:

"Thank you for you [sic] letter and HKLPLOD #ONE. I have no comments or suggestions to make other than to keep working and working hard. If you want to be a writer, a fan magazine like yours can be a good training ground for you, to keep you busy, and to buoy your spirits when the inevitable rejections come. That was true of me and will always be true. I had great fun putting out FUTURIA FANTASIA in 1939 and 1940, and learned much from doing most of the magazine, myself, under many assumed names. Also, it brought me into contact with others who had similar ideas. I envy you your beginnings, and your work. Good luck in your career, Mike, and best always from a former fan editor named....Ray Bradbury."

The link below will take you to the cover of that fanzine:

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Yet another example of Ray Bradbury's support and encouragement of fanzines can be seen in the second issue of UNIVERSE, a fanzine published by Ray Nelson in 1948. Nelson had written to Ray Bradbury, asking him if he would contribute a letter with some biographical information, as well as respond to a few questions. Ray Bradbury's reply was as follows:

"Dear Ray,

I was pleased to hear from you. Here are a few answers to your questions, which you might use. I haven't time to do a full-blown autobiography, as I am leaving for San Francisco this week and will be busy for some time.

I was born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1920, and have lived in Los Angeles since I was fourteen. I began writing when I was eleven or twelve years old. My early influences were the Tarzan and Oz books, naturally, followed by Poe. Contrary to your belief that Poe has been an influence, I do not believe this to be true. I haven't read Poe since I was seventeen, many years ago, and since there is little relationship between our styles, and very little in our ideas as far as I can recall, I believe you would be better off searching among contemporary authors for influences.

I had my own fan magazine when I was eighteen, titled FUTURIA FANTASIA, with covers, four of them, by Hannes Bok. And material by Ross Rocklynne, Henry Kuttner, Hannes Bok, myself, and others. The magazine, a quarterly, existed for four issues only and died in 1940, after having been sponsored financially by the Los Angeles Science Fiction League. It offered me a chance to see my own things in print at a time when I did not have the facility to sell to the large market. I believe a fanzine can save a good purpose if it sustains the ego of the young writer until such time as he is ready to take wing into the thin air of professional competition. I do not believe fan mags should be ends in themselves, since they permit little growth, but should be used as props along the path to literary success. Thus used, they are invaluable.

Interestingly enough, my first actual sale, with money involved, was my story PENDULUM which was originally was printed in my own magazine FUTURIA FANTASIA. A rewritten version of PENDULUM, with Henry Hasse as my collaborator, sold to Super Science and was published in August 1941 on my 21st birthday.

I do nothing but write for a profession. You might be interested to know that on July 15th, Thursday night, on the CBS 'Suspense' program, I will have a play, starring Ida Lupino. It's a semi-weird story. Hope you hear it.

I have been married for almost a year. My wife's name is Marguerite and she is a graduate of UCLA.

How did I go about breaking into the professional magazines? I wrote four million words of material from the time I was sixteen until I was twenty-one. That's the only way to do it. A thousand words, or more, every day of your life. Practice.

Practice and disappointment and more practice.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to my good friends, Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett, Edmond Hamilton, Julie Schwartz, Henry Hasse, Ross Rocklynne, and Jack Williamson, as well as Leslyn and Robert Heinlein for the valuable criticism they gave me nine years ago. I shall never forget them for their kindnesses.

The most important element in a short story is humanity. All of the doodads and gewgaws and fourth-dimensional riveting machines in history can't save a story that isn't sympathetically conceived through its characters.

How do I write a story? First I have read or heard or thought something that titillates me. Then I try to cast it into story form. This is done by conceiving of a character who can embody and enforce the idea. Once I have my character delineated, I have only to muster my opposing forces, set the scene, and the story tells itself.

I do not believe that you really believe that I am rich and famous. Nor do I believe that you are poor and harassed. I hope the above material will be of use. My very best wishes to you.


Ray Bradbury"

To see a cover of the issue of fanzine UNIVERSE in which the above letter appeared, just click on the link below:

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Richard,

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