First off, I apologize for missing last week’s regular blog post. I’m currently serving as the vice president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Last weekend, I was in charge of packing up the annual Rhysling Anthology for shipping to the membership, and that ended up eating my time. If you have any interest at all in science fiction, fantasy, or horror poetry, I encourage you to check out the organization!
One of the copies of the anthology was addressed to none other than Ray Bradbury. He was a Grand Master of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the person who first introduced me to the whole idea of speculative poetry. Of course, he was a multi-talented author known for writing a wide range of speculative works ranging from short stories, to plays, to novels. I was saddened this week to learn of his passing. I was fortunate enough to have spoken at length with Mr. Bradbury on three separate occasions and he was always full of wisdom. He was also very supportive of my writing.
Ray Bradbury used to tell the story of going to the fair when he was young. A man called Mr. Electrico sat in an electric chair with lightning arcing all around. He held out a lightning rod and pointed it right at the young Bradbury and said, “live forever!” Bradbury said he decided that sounded like a good idea and decided at that point to be a writer.
In that vein, it seems there’s little better way to remember such an influential writer than by reading his work. A favorite Ray Bradbury novel of mine is From the Dust Returned. It tells the story of the Elliot family, who in Bradbury’s words “may or may not be vampires.”
This certainly isn’t a conventional “vampire” or “paranormal” novel. These are not brooding creatures obsessed with finding their next victim. Instead, in typical Bradbury fashion, it’s a novel of relationships and family. Oh sure, there’s plenty of lush paranormal imagery including a young woman who travels in her dreams, ghostly lovers, and a mummified grandmother with her lips sewn shut. In many ways, the Elliots are like a loving, sentimental portrait of the Addams Family. In fact, the hardcover’s dust jacket is an illustration by Charles Addams himself. You can read more about the novel, including an excerpt here: http://www.raybradbury.com/books/fromdustreturned-hc.html
In From the Dust Returned, Ray Bradbury reminds us that the best vampire fiction is not about the scenery or the mechanics of how a vampire’s fangs work. It’s about relationships and themes of what makes us human. This is why Ray Bradbury’s fiction will last the ages.