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Friday, July 3, 2015

Bradbury’s Influence Still True Today
Guest Post by Maria Ramos

Photo by Alan Light
Ray Bradbury's ability to tell relatable tales centered around human reactions to the extraordinary has solidified the author's ranking as one of premier science fiction writers of all time. Interestingly enough, Bradbury himself didn't prefer the "science fiction" label, instead referring to himself as a fantasy writer, although some of his works offer commentary on the society in which he lived. The fact that Bradbury's works continue to inspire new generations of authors, illustrators, writers and filmmakers is a testament to his unique ability to transcend the limits of time and space and draw on universal themes that still capture the imagination today. 

The recurring themes in Bradbury's works revolve more around human reactions to what's going on around them rather than hard science, allowing for broad interpretation of those themes. While Fahrenheit 451 was originally inspired by the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, its central theme of government overreach is still relevant today. Something Wicked This Way Comes explores the eternal struggle of good vs. evil through its tale of a mysterious carnival owner who uses people's' desire for wish fulfillment to his advantage - illustrating the point that strings are often attached when something appears to be too good to be true. "The Illustrated Man," a collection of short stories, deals with the complexity of the relationship between humans and technology that's still relevant in a world where people have an increasing dependence on various devices. 

Bradbury often drew from his personal life experiences in his writings, which also provided commentary on the times in which he grew up. For instance, the author's periodic references to "Green Town, Illinois," based on Waukegan, Illinois, the town where he was raised, are used to illustrate the disappearance of traditional small-town America values. By using everyday scenarios, like the way in which the parents in "Zero Hour" originally dismiss their children's claims of conversing with invisible beings as nothing more than the innocence of imagination or how he taps into the teenage frustration of not being taken seriously by adults in "Fever Dream," Bradbury forms a connection with his audience by drawing from common experiences and reactions. 

The timeless themes in Bradbury's stories make such tales easily adaptable to new audiences. The ABC series The Whispers (check here for local listings) borrows from "Zero Hour" with its tale of mysterious beings unleashing their paranormal powers by exploiting the innocence of Earth's children. The comic book mini-series Shadow Show presents a collection of stories by 26 writers inspired by Bradbury's classic tales, a series praised by Stan Lee, the legendary comic book writer and former president of Marvel Comics. The stories echo Bradbury's recurring themes of playing on the emotions and reactions of characters faced with implausible "realities." Coincidentally, Bradbury is credited with helping to reintroduce the EC Comics brand of fiction to the public with The Autumn People, which featured comic adaptations of eight of the author's short stories. 

From the Star Wars movies and comics and the Harry Potter books and subsequent movies to TV shows like The X-Files and Lost, evidence of Bradbury's influence can be found in many of the stories that still entertain and delight audiences today. Bradbury himself once praised Steven Spielberg for his ability to blend fantasy and human emotion in movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The admiration between the two men was mutual, as Spielberg lead an outpouring of praise for the author following his death. The works of Stephen King and Michael Crichton also echo themes found in many of Bradbury's classic tales - with King's Under the Dome and Crichton's Jurassic Park books and related movies serving as perfect examples of Bradbury's enduring influence. When discussing his legacy for the Paris Review, the author once summed up his approach to writing: "I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember." 

This awesome article was written by Maria Ramos. Click on the label Maria Ramos below to find more articles on this website written by her.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Buried in Books and Loving It

These are the books I'm currently reading:

  1. Decision Points by George W. Bush
  2. Sunstruck by Polenth Blake
  3. Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia by Patrick Thorpe
  5. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin
  6. If It's So Easy Why Isn't Everybody Doing It by Scott Welsh
  7. Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
  8. The Collective by Kenan Hillard
  9. Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty by Michell Plested & J.R. Murdock
  10. Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1) by Sigler, Scott

These are books I'm planning on reading this year. Let's see if I can squeeze them all in!

  1. Armada by Ernest Cline
  2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  3. Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Vol. 2) by Timothy Zahn
  4. The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells
  5. The Drawing of the Three  (Dark Tower book II) by Stephen King
  6. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  7. Revival by Stephen King
  8. Mistborn: The Allow of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  9. The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling
  10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Franke
  11. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  12. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

What are you reading? I can always use more books on my to-read list :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 23
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

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In this 23rd episode I review the classic science fiction novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. Listen to hear why I thought that though there were some awesome parts in the book they were few and far between and overall I was bored to tears by it's didactic prose.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Robert A. Heinlein
Narrated by: Lloyd James

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Modern Scholar: Understanding the Holocaust
by David Engel | Book Review

This audiobook was really hard to listen to, because of its incomprehensible facts, but I'm glad I did. You can't feel good while listening to this but you can learn many things about the Holocaust which is why I set out listening to this dreary audiobook.

It all started when I watched the movie Shindler's List, a well-made movie that affected me deeply. I just didn't understand how such atrocities could have occurred. Sure Hitler may have believed that all Jews needed to be exterminated but how did a national army get the point where they were carrying out mass murder on a level unseen by history? I wanted to understand, so I downloaded this audiobook. I now have much more of an understanding of how everything went down, but it is still baffling and depressing to me to think on The Holocaust.

The author and narrator of the lectures which make up this audiobook is extremely knowledgeable and speaks superbly. The audio quality is top notch and even though I think he's reading from a script, simply because he doesn't have a bunch of ums and ahs in there, it really seems like he's just drawing from the massive amounts of knowledge he has in his brain. It really sounds like you're sitting in on one amazing lecture after another.

If you've ever wanted to understand the Holocaust, this audiobook lives up to its title. It won't be an easy listen, but it will answer many questions I'm sure you have, and maybe even some you didn't realize you had.

What books have you read on The Holocaust that have been meaningful or insightful to you? I'm planning on reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl soon. I've owned the paperback for years. I think it's time to read it. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Strange Case of Lord Byron's Lover
(The Prometheus Saga) by Parker Francis | Book Review

This was a really enjoyable story through the viewpoint of Mary Shelley the author of the famous novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. Most of this story takes place during that famous summer where she spent time in the company of Lord Byron, John William Palidori, and Clair Clairmont near Genevea Switzerland. This is where she came up with the idea for her novel Frankenstein. I remember reading that novel when I was in college and it blew me away. I couldn't believe how great it was and how young she was when she wrote it. So I knew about this summer where Lord Byron invited his guests to write a ghost story. Getting to read a story that brings you into that time was pretty special. Though this is a fictional story, which includes an alien being disguised as a human to live among them and learn how they live, everything else in the story is based on what really happened that summer. It was really cool to be a part of that time in this famous author's life as a reader. One of my favorite things about reading is when I'm transported into the story and feel like I'm really there going on the adventure with the characters. This book did a great job doing that and it was really fun to read.

This book is part of The Prometheus Saga, which is a bunch of short stories all written about an alien probe being who is sent to Earth to observe. This being can shape shift and so many times it plays the roles of more than one character in the story. It's a really cool idea and all the stories, including this one, have been great so far. One thing that was different about this book that I appreciated was how light hearted it was. It was told in first person from Mary Shelly's point of view as she's writing in her diary. It was an earnest story and did have times of deep emotion, but on the whole it was not taking itself so seriously which made for a light enjoyable read. The pages turned with ease.

Pick this one up and dive into a creative world of authors gathered for a summer of creativity and a bit of mystery as they interact with each other and unknowingly The Prometheus.