In this week we mark the passing of science fiction grand master Ray Bradbury, who has been eulogized well in media ranging from Wired Magazine, to Bloomberg and NPR. What hasn’t been said enough – Ray Bradbury was an enduring fan of the radio drama medium, and we take a moment now to celebrate the contributions his stories have made to radio drama.
Dozens of Bradbury plays were adapted as radio plays over time, from the golden age of radio up to modern day. Some highlights:
- Mars is Heaven: http://www.archive.org/download/Dimension-X/Dimx_e014_MarsIsHeaven.mp3
- And the Moon Be Still as Bright: http://www.archive.org/download/XMinus1_A/xminusone_550422_AndTheMoonBeStillAndBright.mp3
- Zero Hour: http://www.archive.org/download/XMinus1_A/xminusone_551123_ZeroHour.mp3
- Bradbury 13 (which we’ll be featuring today) – the full collection is available through Blackstone Audiobooks
- Colonial Radio Theater‘s adaptations of Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Halloween Tree (remember that if you’re a Radio Drama Revival listener, hit up http://audibletrial.com/radiodrama for a free 30-day trial and an audiobook of your choice – and there is plenty of Bradbury to choose from)
Our selection today is The Veldt, a story dating from 1950 that classifies as “Vintage Bradbury.” While it doesn’t get as much attention as some of his other short stories, I love several things about Michael McDonough’s adaptation:
- It masterfully captures the audio experience – after listening to this, go back and read the short story and you’ll see how McDonough re-imagined several of the key images of the short story to work for audio. Adaptations of this same story for Old Time Radio were not nearly as inspired.
- The sound design is lush and mesmerizing. It holds up nearly 30 years later, and what particularly impresses me is how so many of the sounds fit with our modern concepts of sci-fi sound design – yet in the late 80s these conventions were hardly established. So you’re hearing a moment where McDonough really blazed a trail for the sound of the future which is prophetic of how the future was going to be sounding to us for the next 30 years.
- The tale itself is timeless and timely, like the best of Bradbury’s work. It touches on some of the same themes as Fahrenheit 451, except from the perspective of the family structure. Since so much of Bradbury’s work is about celebrating a certain era in America’s imagination – that old flair of the small town and the wonder of the traveling show, or the imagination of an inspired father to traverse to another planet – to me this story is about the loss of that wondrous imagination for a canned version instead. Or perhaps a Wii U version? Parenting governed by iPads, smartphones, on-demand programming and apps to tell them when to interact with their kids? 3d video instead of the 3d… um… world? The story speaks to me.
With special permission of Michael McDonough, we have for you Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt.” If you like it, treat yourself to the entire collection available through Blackstone: http://www.blackstoneaudio.com/audiobook.cfm?id=5471
Enjoy what stars you might be encountering on this stage of your journey, Ray. Preceded by Chapter 14 of The Cleansed.