I first chanced upon Ray’s work as a TV-watching youth of about 12. I caught an episode of the Ray Bradbury theatre in which a doctor took a scalpel and threatened to do his worst to a child – yes, a *child*. That was pretty scary stuff, but not as scary as the child. This was of course a TV version of The Small Assassin, a tale that led me to more of the master’s work. Before seeing other episodes of the TV show, I read two great volumes of Bradbury’s tales, one in yellow, another in red. About 100 tales, a real treasure trove of beauties. I’m so glad the books got there first. The TV show is solid enough and indeed written by the author, but nothing onscreen quite captures the lyricism of the prose, the sheer unrealistic realism of his characters. The writing is truly original, stylised truth.
All that was in the 1980s. In 2003, something amazing happened to me. I had a tale accepted for an international horror anthology called Gathering The Bones. Ramsey Campbell was the UK editor on this project and he casually announced that my tale would appear alongside one by a certain Ray Bradbury. That was my first ever published tale and the highlight of my career so far. If you’d told that boy of 12 watching The Small Assassin that this would happen, he’d have laughed at you in that unbelieving, cynical way modern kids have. Maybe I should have been exposed to more of Ray, and younger. Maybe then I’d have believed. . . At any rate, may his magic continue to sting sluggish minds out of their slumbers forever more.
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