December 2005

Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon From the Cave, Too Far From the Stars
Essays by Ray Bradbury
HarperCollins Publishers, July 2005
ISBN: 0060585684
243 pages

Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon From the Cave, Too Far From the Stars

Martians beckon us to visit their amber home; Walt Disney builds an impossible dream and becomes king of Tinsel Town; a man leaps from a cliff and builds his wings before succumbing to the impending abyss; Bertrand Russell revels in firemen who torch books and inhale illiterate smoke; a Russian filmmaker celebrates the achievements of an American pulp writer; Jules Verne and Alice get swallowed by a white whale just before reaching Oz; and, finally, two cities show us grace and grace renounced.

There you have it – a sampling of topics from a timeless wonder who probably still collects Buck Rogers comic strips and sleeps to the heartbeat of our little brother, Mars. Ray Bradbury inspires us yet again, proving he is ever the preacher in his new collection of essays Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon From the Cave, Too Far From the Stars. Most of the essays in this volume have been published over the years, but twelve of these offerings find their first printing here. Included among those twelve is my favorite essay from the book, “Mouser,” which details Bradbury’s friendship with Walt Disney and shines light into the heart of what makes the happiest place on earth so special.

Bradbury Speaks will be most appreciated by long term fans who have learned to appreciate Bradbury’s uniquely passionate and optimistic view of the world. Still, Bradbury certainly expresses his concerns over modern day political dilemmas, economics, and a cultural malaise that prevents humanity from evolving into the truly enlightened people we should become. Not wanting to sound Lamarckian, Bradbury emphasizes that the problem resides in our decisions, prejudices, and our worldviews, not in our genetic makeup. We must change our behavior if we are to evolve as a race. We must learn to look to the stars, not our feet, for those “who do not live in the future will be trapped and die in the past.”

Bradbury’s youth and enthusiasm easily overwhelm the book’s single weakness: a tendency to wander from the main topic from time to time. But even that flaw fits beautifully into the tone and style of the book, which is that of a loving grandfather tale-telling his children to grandiose visions. Look to the stars and you’ll see Bradbury twinkling among them. Look a little longer, dream a little bigger, and one day you’ll join him.