If you had asked Ray Bradbury to estimate a head count for his Thursday night lecture in Campbell Hall, he probably would have told you the place was pretty damn full. What some would consider most fascinating about the mind behind such great science fiction works as “The Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is that, in conversation, Bradbury speaks with the unfiltered enthusiasm of an eight-year-old boy. His talk, fittingly titled “Predicting the Past, Remembering the Future” found the author full of life and passionately reflective at age 85, moving his audience to laughter and himself nearly to tears as he recalled his loves both past and present.
A self-professed “lunatic,” Bradbury jumped haphazardly from one love story to the next with the controlled gusto of a kid on Christmas. Citing early influences, which ranged from dinosaurs and trains to King Tutankhamen, he began the lecture by looking back upon his less-than-promising educational career. “When I left high school, I couldn’t write poetry, couldn’t write a novel, couldn’t write a play,” he insisted. Yet, rather than mastering literature in a traditional college setting, the young author looked inward and found inspiration in those things he cherished as a child. Reminiscing on his early brush with playground peer pressure, Bradbury recalled that, “all my friends made fun of me [for collecting comic strips].” At the age of nine, he scrapped his comic collection, and then spent months berating himself for compromising his hobby for the sake of his trash-talking buddies. He noted this to be his first lesson in love as he told the audience, “You can’t listen to other people about love. From that point on, I never listened to a damn fool again.”
Though he may be the most enamored male to ever write about space travel and Martians for a living, Ray Bradbury is adamant that he does not take his muses lightly. He insisted, “I’ve been careful not to use that word if I didn’t mean it … you can’t use love. It has to happen naturally.”
It was this unabashed love that quickly became the overriding topic of discussion as Bradbury went on to recall how he met his late wife, “a rich girl who took a vow of poverty when she married me.” As a newlywed, Bradbury found himself in love yet again, this time with director John Huston. Upon the completion of his first book, the budding author approached the renowned filmmaker and challenged him. “[I went to John Huston and said] if you love these books half as much as I love you, hire me,” Bradbury recollected with childlike glee. It was soon after that that Huston snagged Bradbury to pen the screenplay to Herman Melville’s classic, “Moby Dick.” Though never a fan of the story (Bradbury shamelessly revealed that he had not even read the book when he was first offered the job), the author became enamored with Melville and recalled literally transforming himself into the whale-loving novelist while writing the script. Speaking in a flurry of gestures and hurried speech, Bradbury recalled the screenwriting process as something he had never imagined doing, but which came naturally because he had “seen every damn movie ever made – even the bad ones.”
With a r