It is my happy duty to report that I was provided a copy of this volume by the publishers – First Fandom Experience. I must also confess that while they did so out of courtesy and friendship, I’m pretty sure that they were hoping I’d help promote this book by way of a review, even if only a little bit.
Writing the above is a responsibility to my professional integrity. But I want you to note, before you read on, that while doing so is a professional duty, it does not have to be a happy one. The task can be executed with little to no associated emotion.
The reader should also note that I am under no obligation, professional or otherwise, to explain the preceeding. I need not have emphasized the fact that it is a pleasure to have made the confession found in our opening paragraph.
That I do so, and did so, can be and ought to be, construed as additional enthusiasm for the project at hand.
You may be familiar with the First Fandom Experience. It’s a small yet greatly skilled father and son team who have dedicated themselves to researching and then compiling the history of Science Fiction Fandom, and then packaging their findings in gorgeous, heavily illustrated and beautifully laid out hard cover volumes suitable for collecting.
Their first effort – The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom – (reviewed here) provides the broad stroke introduction to the unique literary fandom that is Fandom. And now this volume showcases what happens when they drill down and focus on a single subject. In this case, a Fan who would become an author – Ray Bradbury.
The Fan Ray Bradbury was fortunate to have been born when he was and to have lived where he did while growing up, because both of those happy circumstances contributed directly to the author Ray Bradbury would become. Ray Bradbury would become RAY BRADBURY. Excuse me.
R A Y B R A D B U R Y
About whom most of us know a fair amount – from scripting Moby Dick to a television show bearing his name (The Ray Bradbury Theater), awards accolades and a lasting influence on the genre.
But few among us know how it all began, a lack that is amply corrected by this splendiferous book THE EARLIEST BRADBURY.
Being an amatuer Fan Historian, I was previously aware of some of this history: Ray’s trips to Hollywood studios; his bus trip across America, financed by Forry Ackerman, to attend the first WorldCon; his early fanzine work, joining the Science Fiction League….and I presumed that I pretty much knew all there was to know about this most storied fan-becomes-filthy-pro story.
164 pages of oversized hardback, packed with text and illustrations informs me otherwise.
You could call this a “coffee table histo-biography”, but that would be somewhat dismissive of its import. Collected here are numerous early short stories, fanzine columns, illustrations, all interspersed with a running historical commentary that chronicles the author’s development as both a writer and a fan, beginning in 1939 and progressing through 1941. A few sample pages (many others available on the website) offer a taste:
It’s more than likely that Ray could have come up with better words than I in presenting this volume to you (far more than likely), but sadly, those words are inaccessible. Mine will have to do. This is a wonderful paean to a wonderful person, an educational, informative, exciting, visually stimulating and page-turning adventure that will bring you far closer to its subject than most have ever been.
Ray Bradbury’s 100th Birthday is celebrated this year in a number of ways and places, including The Ray Bradbury Centennial at the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum, beginning August 22nd, 2020.
Order your copy of The Earliest Bradbury.
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