Searching For Ray Bradbury: Writings about the Writer and the Man (also subtitled ‘eight essays about Ray Bradbury’ on the front page) is a loving tribute to the memory of one of the most important figures both in the history of our genres and in American popular culture and the literature of the 20th century. At 82 pages it is a slim volume, neither a biography nor a set of academic essays, but a personal celebration of the life and work of a friend.
This very fannish book contains an introduction and acknowledgements, then a lovely forward by David Brin. The eight essays, all of which have previously been published, variously on the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex blog, Neworld review, KCET.org’s Social Focus blog, the Huffington Post, in the SFWA’s The Bulletin or on the author’s own blog – Steven Paul Leivia’s This ‘n That, are:
1: Searching for Ray Bradbury
2: Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles
3: London to Los Angeles, Dickens to Bradbury
4: A Review of J. Eller’s Becoming Ray Bradbury
5: Masterheart of Mars
6: Back to Square One
7: The Intersection of Imagination and Inspiration
8: The Man Who Was Himself
The book is well illustrated with b/w photographs and comes with a lovely cover illustration by Lou Romano, a Pixar production artist who also provided memorable voice acting as Alfredo Linguini in Ratatouille. It is a classy production from Blüroof Press.
Steven Paul Leiva is perhaps best known as an animation producer on Space Jam and Stay Tuned. He first came to know Ray Bradbury in 1977 and they worked together for a year in 1982 on a never made animated film adaptation of the classic comic Little Nemo. After a request in 2009 to help out with a 3D screening of It Came From outer Space! (for which Bradbury produced a very detailed treatment) Leiva started writing a series of articles about Bradbury. He convinced the city of Los Angeles to hold a Ray Bradbury Week in honour of his friend’s 90th birthday in 2010, and was instrumental in having an area of LA renamed Ray Bradbury Square as a permanent memorial in 2012. All this and more is documented in these essays.
The title piece looks for the full extent of the man behind the various labels which have been employed to catagorise Ray Bradbury, ‘…there is undeniable power in labels and badges, and Bradbury keeps being called a science fiction writer, and for some of us that is monumentally inadequate.’ Not that Leiva denies Bradbury wrote science fiction, or has anything against the genre, but SF was only covers a small part of what Bradbury was about.
‘Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles’ looks at the creation of that special celebration and the events held the author’s honour. ‘The Intersection of Imagination and Inspiration’ pays thanks to all those who spoke at the inauguration of Ray Bradbury Square by printing Silva’s introductions to those speakers (which included David Brin and Sue Bradbury Nixon). ‘Back to Square One’ details how Ray Bradbury Square came about in the first place.
‘London to Los Angeles, Dickens to Bradbury’ takes a trip to London as the starting point for a reflection on the very different literary histories of two cities, turning into an investigation of the fate of one of Ray’s early homes. Next comes a book review, and it would be too recursive of me to comment further. ‘Masterheart of Mars’ chronicles the influence of Bradbury’s Martian stories, and the book concludes with ‘The Man Who Was Himself’, which gets to the heart of what Ray Bradbury was all about.
While far from essential, Searching for Ray Bradbury is a delightful book, written and made in the loving spirit of Ray himself. Sure, you could read almost all this material online for free, but it’s a fine thing to have it gathered in one place, preserved for posterity in a physical book. Ray Bradbury loved books. OK, that’s both obvious and an understatement. He didn’t have much time for the online world, but now you can read Steven Paul Levia’s tribute in the way Ray would most have appreciated. Who could resist?
Steven Paul Leiva continues to write about all things Bradbury and you can sample his affection for Ray in this piece on the Huffington Post, Ray Bradbury’s Favorite Bookshop.
Like what you’ve just read? You can buy Searching For Ray Bradbury from Blüroof Press.
Visit Steven Paul Leivia’s This ‘n That. You’ll be glad you did as it contains all sorts of interesting bits ‘n pieces.