Close encounters with sci-fi writers

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury. 91 years old. Same age as The Commander. I can’t tell her you beat her because she isn’t around to tell any more.

In the last year or so (annus horribilis, as Elizabeth II might say) whenever someone notable died that was The Commander’s age or younger, I would always tell her that she had beaten that person. I think she had mixed feelings about that. I would too. Well, she *was* happy to beat out Osama bin Laden (who was much younger) but I’m digressing.

My “relationship” with Ray Bradbury began when The Commander read Fahrenheit 451 when I was a young teenager. She kept talking about the “electric dog” and that piqued my interest enough to actually read the book. (I was a good reader but I probably spent more time practicing the flute / piano in those days. And waiting for my Bad Boyfriend to not call.) And that began a love of science fiction that I should really get myself back into one of these days.

I hate when somebody hits the fast forward button on my life but somebody always does and suddenly I was the moom of two teenagers and working for a non-profit youth theatre guild here on The Planet Ann Arbor. More about that some other time but we produced a couple of Ray Bradbury’s plays — Dandelion Wine and Fahrenheit 451.

My close encounter with Ray Bradbury was during our production of Fahrenheit 451. That was close to my last play with YAG, maybe it *was* the last. I can’t remember. We were in the early stages of rehearsals and I was taking classes at WCC and my habit was to get over there an hour before whatever class I had and chillax in the library for a while. (At least one of the beach urchins hates it when I say “chillax” but whenever I use that word, I think of my beloved school friend Kate (around my age), who used to go and “chillax” with a cig before class.)

Anyway, I was sitting there in the WCC libes and… Piinnng! Email arrived. I set about to delete all of the spam and reply to the panicky YAG parents. Hello! Ray Bradbury is emailing me? Yiiy! Oh okay, it was from a friend of Ray Bradbury. They had found our production of Fahrenheit 451 on the internet and were making contact! I almost fell out of my seat! I replied (carefully, not knowing exactly what to say) and we traded a few more emails. Being a baggy old kayak woman, I wasn’t really up to this conversation so I deferred it and got Mr. Bradbury and our gifted and eccentric director connected by telephone.

Our director and Mr. Bradbury and his friend became fast friends. Mr. Bradbury wanted to come to our play but he wasn’t well enough to travel. He did send various things to us. I definitely got the idea that Ray Bradbury was greatly interested in promoting writing and related arts to people of all ages, including our young actors. What a wonderful person.

P.S. The photooos in this are from our production of Dandelion Wine, not Fahrenheit 451.

5 Responses to “Close encounters with sci-fi writers”

  1. Tonya Watkins Says:

    Awesome! I also like *some* science fiction, and it’s cooincidental that I’m currently reading John Scalzi’s new book, “Redshirts.” (I’m enjoying it!) Have you read his “Old Man’s War?” I loved that book/trilogy. SF can be so stodgy and serious, and he writes with a great sense of humor.

  2. GG Says:

    I remember building the set for Dandelion Wine. It was one of the best. The lighting and colors were exceptional.

  3. Margaret Says:

    I read sci-fi too sometimes, less than I did in HS though. Ray, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein were some of my favorites.

  4. Pooh Says:

    Maybe I’ll bring some sci-fi to the cabin. One of my current favorites, though not exactly typical sci-fi, is Connie Willis. Time travel has been discovered, but this is only the means of putting modern (plus) characters into the past. Examples are: “To Say Nothing of the Dog” and the two-fer, “Blackout” and “All Clear”. She also wrote a collection of Christmas stories, and some other books.

    In a similar vein is “Kin”, which was written by a black, female, SF writer. Her name, well, I’ve forgotten. The HS students were reading it, so I borrowed a copy after they’d finished it. In this case, time travel just happens to one character, who like the author is a modern, smart black female. She finds herself repeatedly pulled back on various occasions to the ante-bellum South, a place where her strengths are definitely dangerous. I won’t reveal more, go read the book.

  5. Pam J. Says:

    What a great Ray Bradbury story! I’ll remember it long after I’ve forgotten other details of his life.