The Thunder Child

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Web Magazine and Sourcebooks

Vol 1, Issue #3
"Stand By For Mars!"
March 2006

Fiction Book Reviews
by Caroline Miniscule

The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury
by Sam Weller
Harper Collins

Learn more or buy now

Caroline Miniscule has traveled around the world. She now stays in one place and reads science fiction. She is a graduate of D'Illyria University (the university of the mind).

Biographer Sam Weller is an award-winning journalist and the former Midwest correspondent for Publisher's Weekly. He's based in Chicago, and, at Columbia College Chicago, teaches the only college-level class in the United States on the life and work of Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920. In 2001, journalist Sam Weller approached the Chicago Tribune Magazine with the idea of doing a profile piece on Bradbury in honor of his upcoming 80th birthday. The magazine commissioned the piece and Weller made contact wtih Bradbury, a writer whom he'd admired since he was thirteen and first read The Illustrated Man. The two men quickly became friends, and it soon occurred to Weller that it was time to do a biography of Bradbury, for there was none. At first Bradbury demurred, as "I have too much life left to live," but then decided to support the project wholeheartedly.

Bradbury's support shows throughout this work. It's the next best thing to an autobiography, as, in many, many interviews between the two men, Bradbury revealed pretty much all to his biographer. As Bradbury states about the book, "This is my life! It's as if somehow Sam Weller slipped into my skin and my head and my heart - it's all here."

The highlights of Bradbury's life are known to most science fiction fans. How he met Ray Harryhausen and Forrest J.Ackerman in Los Angeles, and became life-long friends. How his short story collection The Martian Chronicles catapulted him into stardom, so much so that "science fiction lost him," to quote Isaac Asimov, and he moved into 'literature.' How he has never driven a car, and didn't fly in a plane until he was 62. (He realized that he'd never been afraid of flying, but rather of how he would react while in the air. Once he realized he wouldn't run gibbering up and down the aisle, he had no more qualms, and began to fly regularly.)

Weller begins his chronicle of Bradbury's life at the beginning...not with Bradbury but with his ancestors - one of whom was tried in Salem for being a witch and only narrowly escaped death.

1. Remembrance of Things Past
2. Glinda the Good
3. The Thory of Evolution
4. The sorcerer's Apprentice
5. Welcome Back to the World
6. New Frontiers
7. Hooray for Hollywood
8. Learning to Fly
9. Futuria Fantasia
10. Pulp Heroes
11. The Poet of the Pulps
12. Down Mexico Way
13. Dark Carnival
14. Love and Marriage
15. The Red Planet
16. The Illustrated Man
17. The Golden Apples of the Sun
18. Fahrenheit 451
19. The White Whale
20. Return to Green Town
21. Something Wicked
22. American Journey
23. Remembering the Future
24. Wicked Redux
25. Cathode Ray
26. The Time of Going Away
Selected Bibliography
Selected books by Bradbury
Bradbury was born and lived the first thirteen years of his life in Waukegan, Illinois (with two brief and unsuccessful family excursions to Tuscon, Arizona) before his family moved for good to Los Angeles, California in 1934. Those years growing up in a rural, simple town would infuse his writings forever.

In Los Angeles he met Forrest Ackerman and Isaac Asimov, as well as other science fiction writers, and began to write himself, selling his first story, to Super Science Stories when he was 18. Within a year he had become a full-time writer, and after the publication of his Martian short stories in collection form as The Martian Chronicles, he never looked back.

Sam Weller probes deeply into Bradbury's life, from his childhood memories of an over-protective mother, to his determination as a teen to become a professional writer, to his marriage with his wife Marguerite, in 1947. Weller does not flinch from detailing the difficulties in their marriage, along with the good times.

Bradbury's experiences with John Huston are chronicled, and though his time as a screenwriter for Moby Dick didn't sour him on the behind-the-scenes world of movies, his experiences during the disastrous Disney adaption of Something Wicked This Way Comes came pretty close.

Weller deals with Bradbury's later years less intensively than his early, formative and then career-building years, but there is much of Bradbury's later life here, for example his anger over the movie Fahrenheit 911, the death of his wife in 2002 after suffering from cancer, and his many awards and recognitions.

Weller writes engagingly, with a sure hand, and his affection for his subject infuses the work. If you want to learn how a creative mind works, in particular Ray Bradbury's mind, you must get this book.

Exterior websites

Return to:

Non-Fiction Book Reviews Index Page

Click an icon for New features in The Thunder Child.
Radiation Theater: 1950s Sci Fi Movies Discussion Boards
The Sand Rock Sentinel: Ripped From the Headlines of 1950s Sci Fi Films

Recommended Reading

Learn more or
Buy Now

Learn more or
Buy Now

Learn more or
Buy Now

Learn more or
Buy Now

Learn more or
Buy Now

Learn more or
Buy Now

All text © 2006 The Thunder Child unless otherwise credited.
All illustrations retain original copyright.
Please contact us with any concerns as to correct attribution.
Any questions, comments or concerns contact The Thunder Child.