Ray Bradbury: Core Bibliography and Themes

Here’s a chronological list of principal Ray Bradbury titles I’ll be referring to in coming posts. For an exhaustive bibliography, see the Science Fiction Encyclopedia entry for Bradbury; but as thorough as the listings are in that reference, in cases like Bradbury there are so many small press items and alternately-titled versions that the basic set of books anyone might want to read (as opposed to collect) is obscured. Thus this compact version of a basic bookshelf of RB titles:

1947       Dark Carnival (DC)
1950       The Martian Chronicles (TMC)
1951       The Illustrated Man (TIM)
1953       The Golden Apples of the Sun (GAS)
1953       Fahrenheit 451 (F451)
1955       The October Country (TOC)
1957       Dandelion Wine (DW)
1959       A Medicine for Melancholy (MFM)
1962       Something Wicked This Way Comes (SWTWC)
1962       R Is for Rocket (R)
1964       The Machineries of Joy (MOJ)
1965       The Vintage Bradbury (V)
1966       S Is for Space (S)
1969       I Sing the Body Electric (ISBE)
1976       Long After Midnight (LAM)
1980       The Stories of Ray Bradbury (SRB)
1983       Dinosaur Tales (DT)
1985       Death Is a Lonely Business (DLB)
1988       The Toynbee Convector (TTC)
1990       A Graveyard for Lunatics (GFL)
1992       Green Shadows, White Whale (GSWW)
1996       Quicker Than the Eye (QE)
1998       Driving Blind (DB)
2001       From the Dust Returned (FDR)
2002       One More for the Road (OMR)
2003       Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales (B100)
2003       Let’s All Kill Constance (LKC)
2004       The Cat’s Pajamas (CP)
2007       Now and Forever: Somewhere a Band is Playing & Leviathan ’99 (NF)
2006       Farewell Summer (FS)
2009       We’ll Always Have Paris (WAHP)
2010        A Pleasure to Burn (PTB)

Bradbury died in 2012. (Wikipedia).

Here’s how to break these down into manageable groups:

  • 1947: Earliest collection DC, only 3000 copies and hard to find; RB’s early, macabre stories
  • 1950-1957: The three essential RB books: TMC, F451, DW
  • 1955: TOC, sort of a revised version of DC of mostly early, macabre stories
  • 1951-1964: The other four early collections: TIM, GAS, MFM, MOJ
  • 1962: His one substantial fantasy novel: SWTWC
  • 1962-1966: Three collections mostly of stories from earlier books: R, V, S; plus the later DT (1983)
  • 1969-1988: Three middle period collections, mixes of current and older work: ISBE, LAM, TTC
  • 1992, 2001: Fixups of mostly much earlier material: GSWW, FDR
  • 1985-2003: Three Hollywood detective novels: DLB, GFL, LKC
  • 1980, 2003: Two huge compilations of 100 stories each, with no overlap: SRB; B100
  • 1996-2009: Six final collections with a few current stories and many ‘trunk’ stories: QE, DB, OMR, CP, NF, WAHP
  • 2006: Much-belated sequel to DW: FS
  • 2010: Collection of F451 stories: PTB

Furthermore, the vast majority of RB stories within all his collections fall into these thematic groups:

  • The early macabre stories, written in the mid-1940s
  • A small number of “Planet Stories” stories, inspired by the pulp magazines of the ‘40s
  • Mars stories, including those included in MC written in the late ‘40s, and quite a few written later
  • Green Town stories, including those in DW written in the early ‘50s, and quite a few written later
  • The suburban/urban stories, including “The Pedestrian” and F451
  • Mexico stories, inspired by RB’s vacations there
  • Ireland stories, inspired by RB’s six month stay there in 1953 while writing the screenplay for “Moby Dick”
  • A few Hollywood stories, based on RB’s involvement with film-making
  • A bunch of what I’ll call “hero-worship” or “author-worship” stories, about Picasso, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Charles Dickens, and others, in a couple of which RB implies a status among them.

Moreover – there are overlaps! There is a Green Town story in MC; there are F451 stories in MC; and there’s a F451 prequel story set in Green Town.

There are also, of course, numerous singular stories that don’t fit into any of these groups – e.g. “A Sound of Thunder,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Zero Hour” (this one perhaps part of a group of evil children stories), “Hail and Farewell,” “And the Sailor, Home from the Sea.” And these, upon reflection, are among his best, most memorable works.

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