Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ray Bradbury/ Fall from Grace

This is on my blog

Jun. 12 Ray Bradbury: I learned about this sci-fi author back in Jun. 7, 2012 when he passed away.  It’s inspiring to read about him.  Here’s the Edmonton Journal article “Sci-fi master anticipated iPods in Fahrenheit 451” by John Rogers:

Ray Bradbury, the science fiction/fantasy master who transformed his childhood dreams and Cold War fears into telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters, and - in uncanny detail - the high-tech, book-burning future of Fahrenheit 451, has died. He was 91.

He died Tuesday night, his daughter said Wednesday. Alexandra Bradbury did not have additional details.
Although slowed in recent years by a stroke that meant he had to use a wheelchair, Bradbury remained active into his 90s, turning out new novels, plays, screenplays and a volume of poetry. He wrote every day in the basement office of his Cheviot Hills home and appeared from time to time at bookstores, public library fundraisers and other literary events around Los Angeles.

His writings ranged from horror and mystery to humour and sympathetic stories about the Irish, African Americans and Mexican Americans. Bradbury also scripted John Huston's 1956 film version of Moby Dick and wrote for The Twilight Zone and other television programs, including The Ray Bradbury Theater, for which he adapted dozens of his works.

Bradbury broke through in 1950 with The Martian Chronicles, a series of intertwined stories that satirized capitalism, racism and superpower tensions as it portrayed Earth colonizers destroying an idyllic Martian civilization. It has been published in more than 30 languages, was made into a TV miniseries and inspired a computer game.

The Martian Chronicles prophesied the banning of books, especially works of fantasy, a theme Bradbury would take on fully in the 1953 release, Fahrenheit 451. Inspired by the Cold War, the rise of television and the author's passion for libraries, it was an apocalyptic narrative of nuclear war abroad and empty pleasure at home, with firefighters assigned to burn books instead of putting out blazes (451 degrees F, Bradbury had been told, was the temperature at which texts went up in flames).

It was Bradbury's only true science fiction work, according to the author, who said all his other works should have been classified as fantasy. "It was a book based on real facts and also on my hatred for people who burn books," he told The Associated Press in 2002.

A futuristic classic often taught alongside George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Bradbury's novel anticipated iPods, interactive television, electronic surveillance and live, sensational media events, including televised police pursuits. Francois Truffaut directed a 1966 movie version.

Although involved in many futuristic projects, including the New York World's Fair of 1964 and the Spaceship Earth display at Walt Disney World in Florida, Bradbury was deeply attached to the past. He refused to drive a car or fly, telling the AP that witnessing a fatal traffic accident as a child left behind a permanent fear of automobiles. In his younger years, he got around by bicycle or roller-skates.

Bradbury became the rare science fiction writer treated seriously by the literary world. In 2007, he received a special Pulitzer Prize citation "for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy." Seven years earlier, he received an honorary National Book Award medal for lifetime achievement, an honour given to Philip Roth and Arthur Miller among others.
Other honours included an Academy Award nomination for an animated film, Icarus Montgolfier Wright, and an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. His fame even extended to the moon, where Apollo astronauts named a crater Dandelion Crater, in honour of Dandelion Wine, his beloved coming-of-age novel.

Until near the end of his life, Bradbury resisted one of the innovations he helped anticipate: electronic books, urging readers to stick to the old-fashioned pleasures of ink and paper. But in late 2011, as the rights to Fahrenheit 451 were up for renewal, he gave in and allowed his most famous novel to come out in digital form. The publisher agreed to make the ebook available to libraries, the only Simon & Schuster ebook library patrons were allowed to download.

Bradbury is survived by his four daughters.

Fall from Grace: I cut out this Edmonton Journal article "Seeking redemption and a serial killer" by Kathy Kerr on Mar. 28, 2011.  Here are some excerpts:

The crime will be eerily familiar to Edmonton readers who followed the news of the past decade when speculation about serial killers and the 2008 conviction of Thomas Svekla for two such murders filled the media for months on end.

(Details of Arthurson's newspaper's history of labour unrest better parallel the Calgary Herald than The Journal).

Leo is an intriguing protagonist with more than the average number of quirks. He squandered early promise in his career because of a gambling addiction, losing family, home and eventually winding up on the streets and in jail. His chance for redemption comes from a forgiving editor at a paper desperate to hire some experienced hands.

Leo thinks he has beaten the odds of his addiction, but he has replaced it with a riskier lifestyle -robbing banks. Between reporting assignments, Leo slips into and out of suburban bank branches, never using a weapon and with only a minimal pulled-low baseball cap disguise. Weirdly, the scenario works. (There actually was a former Calgary Herald reporter convicted of robbing banks in 1990, just to add to the verisimilitude of Leo's career trajectory.)

Given his sketchy past and lifestyle, Leo is uniquely qualified to take the murdered prostitute story and run with it. He focuses on the victim, a young aboriginal girl named Grace, and widens his investigation to discover a pattern of murdered prostitutes, all dumped in farm fields around the city.

His scoops catch the attention of his editors, irritate city police officials, and lead to a chance for him to reconnect with his estranged wife and children. He also makes a new connection with his own heritage, which is half Cree.

Edmonton hasn't had many chances to shine in the fictional spotlight. Arthurson's light is pretty harsh and his prose illuminated with lots of grittily authentic detail.

There are lots of these rabbit holes of local interest scattered through the book -the rise of gambling casinos in the province, a mayor who used to be a professional football player like former mayor Bill Smith, and precise geographical details of the area north of downtown.

Arthurson, a freelance journalist as well as fiction writer, also has a good grip on how news stories come together and takes a run at how the rise of the Internet is affecting that process and the industry in general.
The star turn in Fall from Grace is its intriguing and well-drawn protagonist. Leo's story of struggle, search for identity and redemption holds the book together even though the mystery of the murder occasionally falters. This is the first of a two-book deal. Apparently the next one will be called A Killing Winter. Edmontonians will no doubt relate to the title.

My opinion: I have read some scripts at Screenwriter’s Meet Up, and there have been a few scripts that are really based in Edmonton like they mention all these real places in the city.  When I write for my script, I don’t really write about the city.  I write about the characters, my experiences and real conversations I had and work it in.

Jul. 5 Professional Writing: This was a few weeks ago.  I emailed one of my Legal Issues for Writers teacher to ask if I can put up his lecture notes from 2007 onto my blog.  I wanted to put it up on my blog because it’s related to writing. 

A week later he replied saying that he is still teaching the class, but he doesn’t want me to put it up on my blog.  It’s because students may find it and get ahead, and he doesn’t want them to get ahead.

You can buy their book here:

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