Chronicles from the Future: The accident of Andrew Northam

Chronicles from the Future: The accident of Andrew Northam

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The two elders left. Truth be told, I never wanted it to stop.

August 18

(After midnight)

It’s two o’clock in the morning, there’s complete silence around me and I got out of bed to write. My day was painless and my nervous system free from the tension of the first three days. If they are telling me the truth, there’s still hope for me to recover from the shock.

Today was the thirteenth day of my new life, thirteen days full of newfound experiences and emotions. My thought is always with God, only he can show mercy even to the sinner.

Yesterday morning I went out to the terrace and enjoyed the sun. I spent a long time by myself. I sat down and re-read what I had written at night.

Later, Professor Molsen joined me and kept me company until noon. He was different with me today. He was talkative and we communicated quite well, except for the times when he tried to talk to me in his own German. Yearning to know more, I accused him of having experimented on Andrew Northam, without being sure that such a suspicion had any right to cross my mind. He vigorously denied that allegation and he did it with apparent sincerity.

The day before yesterday, Ilector Jaeger told me that they had brought Northam to Molsen, suffering fatal injuries on the head after a car crash. He died in Molsen’s arms and only after fifteen minutes and after having frozen him for a while did Molsen manage to bring him back to life. I didn’t mention any of this to the doctor. I asked Jaeger for the reason why they didn’t let me speak to everyone freely, like the rest of the patients did, and he assured me that this would only last for a few days. He also told me that my insomnia wouldn’t harm me, as long as I spent most of the night in bed.

As far as my life was concerned, he didn’t ask me about anything other than the illnesses I had been through. In as much detail as possible I talked to him about the incident of 1917; “a kind of lethargy” I called it.

In the afternoon, Jaeger paid me a second visit. Both times he was sent by the Ilectors. He told me so much… His company is a great consolation to me. He speaks in such a different way from the doctors; he puts his heart and soul in it.

Chronicles from the Future is now available in Kindle or paperback format through Amazon.

Copyright Achilleas Syrigos. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be republished.

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Bicentennial Man (film)

Bicentennial Man is a 1999 American science fiction comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Sam Neill, Embeth Davidtz (in a dual role), Wendy Crewson, and Oliver Platt. Based on the 1992 novel The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg (which is itself based on Asimov's original 1976 novelette "The Bicentennial Man"), the plot explores issues of humanity, slavery, prejudice, maturity, intellectual freedom, conformity, sex, love, mortality, and eternal life. The film, a co-production between Touchstone Pictures and Columbia Pictures, was directed by Chris Columbus. The title comes from the main character existing to the age of two hundred years, and Asimov's novelette was published in 1976.

Makeup artist Greg Cannom was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Makeup at the 72nd Academy Awards. The theme song of the film, which was written by James Horner and Will Jennings and sung by Celine Dion, is "Then You Look at Me". [3]

Northam on Blackface Scandal: ‘I’m Proud that Virginia Stuck with Me’

Thursday on CNN’s “New Day,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) sounded off on the fallout from his blackface scandal as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has been facing calls for resignation over a plethora of sexual harassment allegations.

Northam said he took “accountability” for his scandal and “learned a lot” from it. He added he is “proud that Virginia stuck with me.”

“[T]hat was a difficult time for Virginia,” Northam emphasized. “And I took accountability for what happened. I said that I’m going to bring good from this. I listened to a lot of people. I learned a lot. And as I tell people, John, the more I know, the more I can do. And we have turned a lot of what I’ve learned about into action, whether it be criminal justice reform, police reform, ending the death penalty, doing things like making sure that people don’t have their driver’s license taken away because they can’t pay their court fines. So, I’m proud that Virginia stuck with me, and, again, I think we’ve been able to bring a lot of good from this.”

As for Cuomo, Northam said the “serious” allegations should be investigated. He went on to say it is “up to the people of New York” to determine his future.

The NASA Archives. 60 Years in Space

On October 1, 1958, the world’s first civilian space agency opened for business as an emergency response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik a year earlier. Within a decade, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, universally known as NASA, had evolved from modest research teams experimenting with small converted rockets into one of the greatest technological and managerial enterprises ever known, capable of sending people to the Moon aboard gigantic rockets and of dispatching robot explorers to Venus, Mars, and worlds far beyond. In spite of occasional, tragic setbacks in NASA’s history, the Apollo lunar landing project remains a byword for American ingenuity the winged space shuttles spearheaded the International Space Station and a dazzling array of astronomical satellites and robotic landers, and Earth observation programs have transformed our understanding of the cosmos and our home world’s fragile place within it.

Throughout NASA’s 60-year history, images have played a central role. Who today is not familiar with the Hubble Space Telescope’s mesmerizing views of the universe or the pin-sharp panoramas of Mars from NASA’s surface rovers? And who could forget the photographs of the first men walking on the Moon?

Researched with the collaboration of NASA, this collection gathers more than 400 historic photographs and rare concept renderings, scanned and remastered using the latest technology and reproduced in extra-large size. Texts by science and technology journalist Piers Bizony, former NASA chief historian Roger Launius, and best-selling Apollo historian Andrew Chaikin—and an extensive mission checklist documenting the key human and robotic missions—round out this comprehensive exploration of NASA, from its earliest days to its current development of new space systems for the future.

The NASA Archives is more than just a fascinating pictorial history of the U.S. space program. It is also a profound meditation on why we choose to explore space and how we will carry on this grandest of all adventures in the years to come.

The editor and author

Piers Bizony is a science and technology writer. His publications include Atom, The Man Who Ran the Moon, Starman, and The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The contributing authors

Andrew Chaikin is the author of the best-selling book A Man on the Moon, a detailed account of the Apollo lunar missions based on firsthand testimony. This work formed the basis for the triple Emmy award–winning HBO series From the Earth to the Moon.

Dr. Roger Launius served as Chief Historian at NASA from 1990 until 2002, after which he was appointed senior curator in the Space History Division of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C. He was also a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003.

The NASA Archives. 60 Years in Space

The multilingual editions come with the English book and a booklet with either French or German translations.


Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Esther (née Moberg) Bradbury (1888–1966), a Swedish immigrant, and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury (1890–1957), a power and telephone lineman of English ancestry. [5] [6] [7] [8] He was given the middle name "Douglas" after the actor Douglas Fairbanks. Bradbury was related to the U.S. Shakespeare scholar Douglas Spaulding and descended from Mary Bradbury, who was tried at one of the Salem witch trials in 1692. [9] [10]

Bradbury was surrounded by an extended family during his early childhood and formative years in Waukegan. An aunt read him short stories when he was a child. [11] This period provided foundations for both the author and his stories. In Bradbury's works of fiction, 1920s Waukegan becomes "Green Town", Illinois.

The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona, during 1926–1927 and 1932–1933 while their father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan. While living in Tucson, Bradbury attended Amphi Junior High School and Roskruge Junior High School. They eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934 when Bradbury was 14 years old. The family arrived with only US$40 (equivalent to $774 in 2020), which paid for rent and food until his father finally found a job making wire at a cable company for $14 a week (equivalent to $271 in 2020). This meant that they could stay, and Bradbury, who was in love with Hollywood, was ecstatic. [ citation needed ]

Bradbury attended Los Angeles High School and was active in the drama club. He often roller-skated through Hollywood in hopes of meeting celebrities. Among the creative and talented people Bradbury met were special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and radio star George Burns. Bradbury's first pay as a writer, at age 14, was for a joke he sold to George Burns to use on the Burns and Allen radio show. [12] [13]

Literature Edit

Throughout his youth, Bradbury was an avid reader and writer and knew at a young age that he was "going into one of the arts." [14] [15] Bradbury began writing his own stories at age 11 (1931), during the Great Depression—sometimes writing on the only thing available: butcher paper. [ citation needed ]

In his youth, he spent much time in the Carnegie Library in Waukegan, reading such authors as H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Allan Poe. At 12, Bradbury began writing traditional horror stories and said he tried to imitate Poe until he was about 18. [16] In addition to comics, he loved the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan of the Apes, especially Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. The Warlord of Mars impressed him so much that at the age of 12, he wrote his own sequel. [17] [18] The young Bradbury was also a cartoonist and loved to illustrate. He wrote about Tarzan and drew his own Sunday panels. He listened to the radio show Chandu the Magician, and every night when the show went off the air, he would sit and write the entire script from memory. [19]

As a teen in Beverly Hills, he often visited his mentor and friend science-fiction writer Bob Olsen, sharing ideas and maintaining contact. In 1936, at a secondhand bookstore in Hollywood, Bradbury discovered a handbill promoting meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. [20] Excited to find that others shared his interest, Bradbury joined a weekly Thursday-night conclave at age 16. [21]

Bradbury cited H. G. Wells and Jules Verne as his primary science-fiction influences. Bradbury identified with Verne, saying, "He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally". [22] Bradbury admitted that he stopped reading science-fiction books in his 20s and embraced a broad field of literature that included poets Alexander Pope and John Donne. [23] Bradbury had just graduated from high school when he met Robert Heinlein, then 31 years old. Bradbury recalled, "He was well known, and he wrote humanistic science fiction, which influenced me to dare to be human instead of mechanical." [23]

In young adulthood Bradbury read stories published in Astounding Science Fiction, and read everything by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and A. E. van Vogt.

Hollywood Edit

The family lived about four blocks from the Fox Uptown Theatre on Western Avenue in Los Angeles, the flagship theater for MGM and Fox. There, Bradbury learned how to sneak in and watched previews almost every week. He rollerskated there, as well as all over town, as he put it, "hell-bent on getting autographs from glamorous stars. It was glorious." Among stars the young Bradbury was thrilled to encounter were Norma Shearer, Laurel and Hardy, and Ronald Colman. Sometimes, he spent all day in front of Paramount Pictures or Columbia Pictures and then skated to the Brown Derby to watch the stars who came and went for meals. He recounted seeing Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West, who, he learned, made a regular appearance every Friday night, bodyguard in tow. [23]

Bradbury relates the following meeting with Sergei Bondarchuk, director of Soviet epic film series War and Peace, at a Hollywood award ceremony in Bondarchuk's honor:

They formed a long queue and as Bondarchuk was walking along it he recognized several people: "Oh Mr. Ford, I like your film." He recognized the director, Greta Garbo, and someone else. I was standing at the very end of the queue and silently watched this. Bondarchuk shouted to me "Ray Bradbury, is that you?" He rushed up to me, embraced me, dragged me inside, grabbed a bottle of Stolichnaya, sat down at his table where his closest friends were sitting. All the famous Hollywood directors in the queue were bewildered. They stared at me and asked each other "Who is this Bradbury?" And, swearing, they left, leaving me alone with Bondarchuk . [24]

Bradbury's first published story was "Hollerbochen's Dilemma", which appeared in the January 1938 number of Forrest J. Ackerman's fanzine Imagination!. [1] In July 1939, Ackerman and his girlfriend Morojo gave 19-year-old Bradbury the money to head to New York for the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York City, and funded Bradbury's fanzine, titled Futuria Fantasia. [25] Bradbury wrote most of its four issues, each limited to under 100 copies. [ citation needed ] Between 1940 and 1947, he was a contributor to Rob Wagner's film magazine, Script. [26]

Bradbury was free to start a career in writing when, owing to his bad eyesight, he was rejected for induction into the military during World War II. Having been inspired by science-fiction heroes such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Bradbury began to publish science-fiction stories in fanzines in 1938. Bradbury was invited by Forrest J. Ackerman [ citation needed ] to attend the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, which at the time met at Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. There he met the writers Robert A. Heinlein, Emil Petaja, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett and Jack Williamson. [ citation needed ]

In 1939, Bradbury joined Laraine Day's Wilshire Players Guild, where for two years, he wrote and acted in several plays. They were, as Bradbury later described, "so incredibly bad" that he gave up playwriting for two decades. [27] Bradbury's first paid piece, "Pendulum", written with Henry Hasse, was published in the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November 1941, for which he earned $15. [28]

Bradbury sold his first solo story, "The Lake", for $13.75 at 22 and became a full-time writer by 24. [23] His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947 by Arkham House, a small press in Sauk City, Wisconsin, owned by writer August Derleth. Reviewing Dark Carnival for the New York Herald Tribune, Will Cuppy proclaimed Bradbury "suitable for general consumption" and predicted that he would become a writer of the caliber of British fantasy author John Collier. [29]

After a rejection notice from the pulp Weird Tales, Bradbury submitted "Homecoming" to Mademoiselle, which was spotted by a young editorial assistant named Truman Capote. Capote picked the Bradbury manuscript from a slush pile, which led to its publication. Homecoming won a place in the O. Henry Award Stories of 1947. [30]

In UCLA's Powell Library, in a study room with typewriters for rent, Bradbury wrote his classic story of a book burning future, The Fireman, which was about 25,000 words long. It was later published at about 50,000 words under the name Fahrenheit 451, for a total cost of $9.80, due to the library's typewriter-rental fees of ten cents per half-hour. [31]

A chance encounter in a Los Angeles bookstore with the British expatriate writer Christopher Isherwood gave Bradbury the opportunity to put The Martian Chronicles into the hands of a respected critic. Isherwood's glowing review followed. [32]

Bradbury attributed his lifelong habit of writing every day to two incidents. The first of these, occurring when he was three years old, was his mother's taking him to see Lon Chaney in the 1923 silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. [33] The second incident occurred in 1932, when a carnival entertainer, one Mr. Electrico, touched the young man on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end, and shouted, "Live forever!" [34] Bradbury remarked, "I felt that something strange and wonderful had happened to me because of my encounter with Mr. Electrico . [he] gave me a future . I began to write, full-time. I have written every single day of my life since that day 69 years ago." [34] At that age, Bradbury first started to do magic, which was his first great love. If he had not discovered writing, he would have become a magician. [35]

Bradbury claimed a wide variety of influences, and described discussions he might have with his favorite poets and writers Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, and Thomas Wolfe. From Steinbeck, he said he learned "how to write objectively and yet insert all of the insights without too much extra comment". He studied Eudora Welty for her "remarkable ability to give you atmosphere, character, and motion in a single line". Bradbury's favorite writers growing up included Katherine Anne Porter, Edith Wharton, and Jessamyn West. [36]

Bradbury was once described as a "Midwest surrealist" and is often labeled a science-fiction writer, which he described as "the art of the possible." Bradbury resisted that categorization, however: [37] [38]

First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time—because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power. [39]

Bradbury recounted when he came into his own as a writer, the afternoon he wrote a short story about his first encounter with death. When he was a boy, he met a young girl at a lake edge and she went out into the water and never came back. Years later, as he wrote about it, tears flowed from him. He recognized he had taken the leap from emulating the many writers he admired to connecting with his voice as a writer. [40]

When later asked about the lyrical power of his prose, Bradbury replied, "From reading so much poetry every day of my life. My favorite writers have been those who've said things well." He is quoted, "If you're reluctant to weep, you won't live a full and complete life." [41]

In high school, Bradbury was active in both the poetry club and the drama club, continuing plans to become an actor, but becoming serious about his writing as his high school years progressed. Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he took poetry classes with Snow Longley Housh, and short-story writing courses taught by Jeannet Johnson. [42] The teachers recognized his talent and furthered his interest in writing, [43] but he did not attend college. Instead, he sold newspapers at the corner of South Norton Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. In regard to his education, Bradbury said:

Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years. [44] [45]

He told The Paris Review, "You can't learn to write in college. It's a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do – and they don't." [46]

Bradbury described his inspiration as, "My stories run up and bite me in the leg—I respond by writing them down—everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off". [47]

"Green Town" Edit

A reinvention of Waukegan, Green Town is a symbol of safety and home, which is often juxtaposed as a contrasting backdrop to tales of fantasy or menace. It serves as the setting of his semiautobiographical classics Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer, as well as in many of his short stories. In Green Town, Bradbury's favorite uncle sprouts wings, traveling carnivals conceal supernatural powers, and his grandparents provide room and board to Charles Dickens. [48] Perhaps the most definitive usage of the pseudonym for his hometown, in Summer Morning, Summer Night, a collection of short stories and vignettes exclusively about Green Town, Bradbury returns to the signature locale as a look back at the rapidly disappearing small-town world of the American heartland, which was the foundation of his roots. [49]

Bradbury wrote many short essays on the culture and the arts, attracting the attention of critics in this field, but he used his fiction to explore and criticize his culture and society. Bradbury observed, for example, that Fahrenheit 451 touches on the alienation of people by media:

In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap opera cries, sleep walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction. [50]

Bradbury stated that the novel worked as a critique of the later development of political correctness:

How does the story of Fahrenheit 451 stand up in 1994?
R.B.: It works even better because we have political correctness now. Political correctness is the real enemy these days. The black groups want to control our thinking and you can't say certain things. The homosexual groups don't want you to criticize them. It's thought control and freedom of speech control. [51]

In a 1982 essay, he wrote, "People ask me to predict the Future, when all I want to do is prevent it". This intent had been expressed earlier by other authors, [52] who sometimes attributed it to him.

On May 24, 1956, Bradbury appeared on television in Hollywood on the popular quiz show You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx. During his introductory comments and on-air banter with Marx, Bradbury briefly discussed some of his books and other works, including giving an overview of "The Veldt", his short story published six years earlier in The Saturday Evening Post under the title "The World the Children Made". [53]

Bradbury was a consultant for the American Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair and wrote the narration script for The American Journey attraction housed there. [54] [55] He also worked on the original exhibit housed in Epcot's Spaceship Earth geosphere at Walt Disney World. [56] [57] [58] Bradbury concentrated on detective fiction in the 1980s. [59] In the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s, he also hosted The Ray Bradbury Theater, a televised anthology series based on his short stories.

Bradbury was a strong supporter of public library systems, raising money to prevent the closure of several libraries in California facing budgetary cuts. He said "libraries raised me", and shunned colleges and universities, comparing his own lack of funds during the Depression with poor contemporary students. [60] His opinion varied on modern technology. In 1985 Bradbury wrote, "I see nothing but good coming from computers. When they first appeared on the scene, people were saying, 'Oh my God, I'm so afraid.' I hate people like that – I call them the neo-Luddites", and "In a sense, [computers] are simply books. Books are all over the place, and computers will be, too". [61] He resisted the conversion of his work into e-books, saying in 2010, "We have too many cellphones. We've got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now". [62] When the publishing rights for Fahrenheit 451 came up for renewal in December 2011, Bradbury permitted its publication in electronic form provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, allowed the e-book to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. The title remains the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalog where this is possible. [63]

Several comic-book writers have adapted Bradbury's stories. Particularly noted among these were EC Comics' line of horror and science-fiction comics. Initially, the writers plagiarized his stories, but a diplomatic letter from Bradbury about it led to the company paying him and negotiating properly licensed adaptations of his work. The comics featuring Bradbury's stories included Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime Suspenstories, and Haunt of Fear. [ citation needed ]

Bradbury remained an enthusiastic playwright all his life, leaving a rich theatrical legacy, as well as literary. Bradbury headed the Pandemonium Theatre Company in Los Angeles for many years and had a five-year relationship with the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. [64]

Bradbury is featured prominently in two documentaries related to his classic 1950s–1960s era: Jason V Brock's Charles Beaumont: The Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man, [65] which details his troubles with Rod Serling, and his friendships with writers Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and most especially his dear friend William F. Nolan, as well as Brock's The AckerMonster Chronicles!, which delves into the life of former Bradbury agent, close friend, mega-fan, and Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J Ackerman. [ citation needed ]

Bradbury's legacy was celebrated by the bookstore Fahrenheit 451 Books in Laguna Beach, California, in the 1970s and 1980s.Joseph Nicoletti did some Music-Film Consulting for Ray Bradbury for a while, Nicoletti Lived in Laguna Beach and also did work for Wally Heider and Paramount Pictures Godfather III. The grand opening of an annex to the store was attended by Bradbury and his favorite illustrator, Joseph Mugnaini, in the mid-1980s. The shop closed its doors in 1987, but in 1990, another shop with the same name (with different owners) opened in Carlsbad, California. [66]

In the 1980s and 1990s, Bradbury served on the advisory board of the Los Angeles Student Film Institute. [67] [68]

Bradbury's wife was Marguerite McClure (January 16, 1922 – November 24, 2003) from 1947 until her death they had four daughters: [69] Susan, Ramona, Bettina and Alexandra. [70] Bradbury never obtained a driver's license, but relied on public transportation or his bicycle. [71] He lived at home until he was 27 and married. His wife of 56 years, Maggie, as she was affectionately called, was the only woman Bradbury ever dated. [23]

He was raised Baptist by his parents, who were themselves infrequent churchgoers. As an adult, Bradbury considered himself a "delicatessen religionist" who resisted categorization of his beliefs and took guidance from both Eastern and Western faiths. He felt that his career was "a God-given thing, and I'm so grateful, so, so grateful. The best description of my career as a writer is 'At play in the fields of the Lord.'" [72]

Bradbury was a close friend of Charles Addams, and Addams illustrated the first of Bradbury's stories about the Elliotts, a family that resembled Addams' own Addams Family placed in rural Illinois. Bradbury's first story about them was "Homecoming", published in the 1946 Halloween issue of Mademoiselle, with Addams' illustrations. Addams and he planned a larger collaborative work that would tell the family's complete history, but it never materialized, and according to a 2001 interview, they went their separate ways. [73] In October 2001, Bradbury published all the Family stories he had written in one book with a connecting narrative, From the Dust Returned, featuring a wraparound Addams cover of the original "Homecoming" illustration. [74]

Another close friend was animator Ray Harryhausen, who was best man at Bradbury's wedding. [75] During a BAFTA 2010 awards tribute in honor of Ray Harryhausen's 90th birthday, Bradbury spoke of his first meeting Harryhausen at Forrest J Ackerman's house when they were both 18 years old. Their shared love for science fiction, King Kong, and the King Vidor-directed film The Fountainhead, written by Ayn Rand, was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. These early influences inspired the pair to believe in themselves and affirm their career choices. After their first meeting, they kept in touch at least once a month, in a friendship that spanned over 70 years. [76]

Late in life, Bradbury retained his dedication and passion despite what he described as the "devastation of illnesses and deaths of many good friends." Among the losses that deeply grieved Bradbury was the death of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who was an intimate friend for many years. They remained close friends for nearly three decades after Roddenberry asked him to write for Star Trek, which Bradbury never did, objecting that he "never had the ability to adapt other people's ideas into any sensible form." [23]

Bradbury suffered a stroke in 1999 [77] that left him partially dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. [78] Despite this, he continued to write, and had even written an essay for The New Yorker, about his inspiration for writing, published only a week prior to his death. [79] Bradbury made regular appearances at science-fiction conventions until 2009, when he retired from the circuit.

Bradbury chose a burial place at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, with a headstone that reads "Author of Fahrenheit 451". [80] [81] On February 6, 2015, The New York Times reported that the house that Bradbury lived and wrote in for 50 years of his life, at 10265 Cheviot Drive in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, California, had been demolished by the buyer, architect Thom Mayne. [82]

Bradbury died in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, after a lengthy illness. [83] Bradbury's personal library was willed to the Waukegan Public Library, where he had many of his formative reading experiences. [84]

The New York Times called Bradbury "the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream." [4] The Los Angeles Times credited Bradbury with the ability "to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here and now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity". [85] Bradbury's grandson, Danny Karapetian, said Bradbury's works had "influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it's always really touching and comforting to hear their stories". [70] The Washington Post noted several modern day technologies that Bradbury had envisioned much earlier in his writing, such as the idea of banking ATMs and earbuds and Bluetooth headsets from Fahrenheit 451, and the concepts of artificial intelligence within I Sing the Body Electric. [86]

On June 6, 2012, in an official public statement from the White House Press Office, President Barack Obama said:

For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. [87]

Numerous Bradbury fans paid tribute to the author, noting the influence of his works on their own careers and creations. [88] [89] Filmmaker Steven Spielberg stated that Bradbury was "[his] muse for the better part of [his] sci-fi career . On the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal". [90] Writer Neil Gaiman felt that "the landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had him in our world". [89] Author Stephen King released a statement on his website saying, "Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and three hundred great stories. One of the latter was called 'A Sound of Thunder'. The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty." [91]

Bradbury authored "more than 27 novels and story collections", which included many of his 600 short stories. [85] More than eight million copies of his works, published in over 36 languages, have been sold around the world. [4]

First novel Edit

In 1949, Bradbury and his wife were expecting their first child. He took a Greyhound bus to New York and checked into a room at the YMCA for 50 cents a night. He took his short stories to a dozen publishers, but no one wanted them. Just before getting ready to go home, Bradbury had dinner with an editor at Doubleday. When Bradbury recounted that everyone wanted a novel and he did not have one, the editor, coincidentally named Walter Bradbury, asked if the short stories might be tied together into a book-length collection. The title was the editor's idea he suggested, "You could call it The Martian Chronicles." Bradbury liked the idea and recalled making notes in 1944 to do a book set on Mars. That evening, he stayed up all night at the YMCA and typed out an outline. He took it to the Doubleday editor the next morning, who read it and wrote Bradbury a check for $750. When Bradbury returned to Los Angeles, he connected all the short stories that became The Martian Chronicles. [36]

Intended first novel Edit

What was later issued as a collection of stories and vignettes, Summer Morning, Summer Night, started out to be Bradbury's first true novel. The core of the work was Bradbury's witnessing of the American small-town life in the American heartland. [ citation needed ]

In the winter of 1955–56, after a consultation with his Doubleday editor, Bradbury deferred publication of a novel based on Green Town, the pseudonym for his hometown. Instead, he extracted 17 stories and, with three other Green Town tales, bridged them into his 1957 book Dandelion Wine. Later, in 2006, Bradbury published the original novel remaining after the extraction, and retitled it Farewell Summer. These two titles show what stories and episodes Bradbury decided to retain as he created the two books out of one. [ citation needed ]

The most significant of the remaining unpublished stories, scenes, and fragments were published under the originally intended name for the novel, Summer Morning, Summer Night, in 2007. [92]

From 1950 to 1954, 31 of Bradbury's stories were adapted by Al Feldstein for EC Comics (seven of them uncredited in six stories, including "Kaleidoscope" and "Rocket Man" being combined as "Home To Stay"—for which Bradbury was retroactively paid—and EC's first version of "The Handler" under the title "A Strange Undertaking") and 16 of these were collected in the paperbacks, The Autumn People (1965) and Tomorrow Midnight (1966), both published by Ballantine Books with cover illustrations by Frank Frazetta. Also in the early 1950s, adaptations of Bradbury's stories were televised in several anthology shows, including Tales of Tomorrow, Lights Out, Out There, Suspense, CBS Television Workshop, Jane Wyman's Fireside Theatre, Star Tonight, Windows and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. "The Merry-Go-Round", a half-hour film adaptation of Bradbury's "The Black Ferris", praised by Variety, was shown on Starlight Summer Theater in 1954 and NBC's Sneak Preview in 1956. During that same period, several stories were adapted for radio drama, notably on the science fiction anthologies Dimension X and its successor X Minus One.

Producer William Alland first brought Bradbury to movie theaters in 1953 with It Came from Outer Space, a Harry Essex screenplay developed from Bradbury's screen treatment "Atomic Monster". Three weeks later came the release of Eugène Lourié's The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), which featured one scene based on Bradbury's "The Fog Horn", about a sea monster mistaking the sound of a fog horn for the mating cry of a female. Bradbury's close friend Ray Harryhausen produced the stop-motion animation of the creature. Bradbury later returned the favor by writing a short story, "Tyrannosaurus Rex", about a stop-motion animator who strongly resembled Harryhausen. Over the next 50 years, more than 35 features, shorts, and TV movies were based on Bradbury's stories or screenplays. Bradbury was hired in 1953 by director John Huston to work on the screenplay for his film version of Melville's Moby Dick (1956), which stars Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael, and Orson Welles as Father Mapple. A significant result of the film was Bradbury's book Green Shadows, White Whale, a semifictionalized account of the making of the film, including Bradbury's dealings with Huston and his time in Ireland, where exterior scenes that were set in New Bedford, Massachusetts, were filmed.

Bradbury's short story I Sing the Body Electric (from the book of the same name) was adapted for the 100th episode of The Twilight Zone. The episode was first aired on May 18, 1962.

Bradbury and director Charles Rome Smith co-founded the Pandemonium Theatre Company in 1964. Its first production was The World of Ray Bradbury, consisting of one-act adaptations of "The Pedestrian", "The Veldt", and "To the Chicago Abyss". It ran for four months at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles (October 1964 – February 1965) an off-Broadway production was presented in October 1965. Another Pandemonium Theatre Company production was mounted at the Coronet Theatre in 1965, again presenting adaptations of three Bradbury short stories: "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit," "The Day It Rained Forever," and "Device Out of Time." (The last was adapted from his 1957 novel Dandelion Wine). The original cast for this production featured Booth Coleman, Joby Baker, Fredric Villani, Arnold Lessing, Eddie Sallia, Keith Taylor, Richard Bull, Gene Otis Shane, Henry T. Delgado, F. Murray Abraham, Anne Loos, and Len Lesser. The director, again, was Charles Rome Smith.

Oskar Werner and Julie Christie starred in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), an adaptation of Bradbury's novel directed by François Truffaut.

In 1966, Bradbury helped Lynn Garrison create AVIAN, a specialist aviation magazine. For the first issue, Bradbury wrote a poem, "Planes That Land on Grass".

In 1969, The Illustrated Man was brought to the big screen, starring Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom, and Robert Drivas. Containing the prologue and three short stories from the book, the film received mediocre reviews. The same year, Bradbury approached composer Jerry Goldsmith, who had worked with Bradbury in dramatic radio of the 1950s and later scored the film version, to compose a cantata Christus Apollo based on Bradbury's text. [93] The work premiered in late 1969, with the California Chamber Symphony performing with narrator Charlton Heston at UCLA.

In 1972, The Screaming Woman was adapted as an ABC Movie-of-the-Week starring Olivia de Havilland.

The Martian Chronicles became a three-part TV miniseries starring Rock Hudson, which was first broadcast by NBC in 1980. Bradbury found the miniseries "just boring". [96]

The 1982 television movie The Electric Grandmother was based on Bradbury's short story "I Sing the Body Electric".

The 1983 horror film Something Wicked This Way Comes, starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce, is based on the Bradbury novel of the same name.

In 1984, Michael McDonough of Brigham Young University produced "Bradbury 13", a series of 13 audio adaptations of famous stories from Bradbury, in conjunction with National Public Radio. The full-cast dramatizations featured adaptations of "The Ravine", "Night Call, Collect", "The Veldt", "There Was an Old Woman", "Kaleidoscope", "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed", "The Screaming Woman", "A Sound of Thunder", "The Man", "The Wind", "The Fox and the Forest", "Here There Be Tygers", and "The Happiness Machine". Voiceover actor Paul Frees provided narration, while Bradbury was responsible for the opening voiceover Greg Hansen and Roger Hoffman scored the episodes. The series won a Peabody Award and two Gold Cindy awards and was released on CD on May 1, 2010. The series began airing on BBC Radio 4 Extra on June 12, 2011.

From 1985 to 1992, Bradbury hosted a syndicated anthology television series, The Ray Bradbury Theater, for which he adapted 65 of his stories. Each episode began with a shot of Bradbury in his office, gazing over mementoes of his life, which he states (in narrative) are used to spark ideas for stories. During the first two seasons, Bradbury also provided additional voiceover narration specific to the featured story and appeared on screen.

Deeply respected in the USSR, Bradbury's fiction has been adapted into five episodes of the Soviet science-fiction TV series This Fantastic World which adapted the stories film version of "I Sing The Body Electric", Fahrenheit 451, "A Piece of Wood", "To the Chicago Abyss", and "Forever and the Earth". [97] In 1984 a cartoon adaptation of There Will Come Soft Rains («Будет ласковый дождь») came out by Uzbek director Nazim Tyuhladziev. [98] He made a film adaptation of The Veldt in 1987. [99] In 1989, a cartoon adaptation of "Here There Be Tygers" («Здесь могут водиться тигры») by director Vladimir Samsonov came out. [100]

Bradbury wrote and narrated the 1993 animated television version of The Halloween Tree, based on his 1972 novel.

The 1998 film The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, released by Touchstone Pictures, was written by Bradbury. It was based on his story "The Magic White Suit" originally published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1957. The story had also previously been adapted as a play, a musical, and a 1958 television version.

In 2002, Bradbury's own Pandemonium Theatre Company production of Fahrenheit 451 at Burbank's Falcon Theatre combined live acting with projected digital animation by the Pixel Pups. In 1984, Telarium released a game for Commodore 64 based on Fahrenheit 451. [101]

In 2005, the film A Sound of Thunder was released, loosely based upon the short story of the same name. The film The Butterfly Effect revolves around the same theory as A Sound of Thunder and contains many references to its inspiration. Short film adaptations of A Piece of Wood and The Small Assassin were released in 2005 and 2007, respectively.

In 2005, it was reported that Bradbury was upset with filmmaker Michael Moore for using the title Fahrenheit 9/11, which is an allusion to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, for his documentary about the George W. Bush administration. Bradbury expressed displeasure with Moore's use of the title, but stated that his resentment was not politically motivated, though Bradbury was conservative-leaning politically. [102] Bradbury asserted that he did not want any of the money made by the movie, nor did he believe that he deserved it. He pressured Moore to change the name, but to no avail. Moore called Bradbury two weeks before the film's release to apologize, saying that the film's marketing had been set in motion a long time ago and it was too late to change the title. [103]

In 2008, the film Ray Bradbury's Chrysalis was produced by Roger Lay Jr. for Urban Archipelago Films, based upon the short story of the same name. The film won the best feature award at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix. The film has international distribution by Arsenal Pictures and domestic distribution by Lightning Entertainment.

In 2010, The Martian Chronicles was adapted for radio by Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air.

Bradbury's works and approach to writing are documented in Terry Sanders' film Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer (1963).

Bradbury's poem "Groon" was voiced as a tribute in 2012. [104]

The Ray Bradbury Award for excellency in screenwriting was occasionally presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America – presented to six people on four occasions from 1992 to 2009. [105] Beginning 2010, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation is presented annually according to Nebula Awards rules and procedures, although it is not a Nebula Award. [106] The revamped Bradbury Award replaced the Nebula Award for Best Script.

  • In 1971, an impact crater on the Moon was named Dandelion Crater by the Apollo 15 astronauts, in honor of Bradbury's novel Dandelion Wine. [107]
  • In 1979, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.) degree from Whittier College. [108]
  • In 1984, he received the Prometheus Award for Fahrenheit 451.
  • In 1986, Ray Bradbury was a Guest of Honor at the 44th World Science Fiction Convention, which was held in Atlanta, Ga., from August 28 to September 1. [109]
  • Ray Bradbury Park was dedicated in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1990. He was present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The park contains locations described in Dandelion Wine, most notably the "113 steps". In 2009, a panel designed by artist Michael Pavelich was added to the park detailing the history of Ray Bradbury and Ray Bradbury Park. [110]
  • An asteroid discovered in 1992 was named "9766 Bradbury" in his honor.
  • In 1994, he received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust.
  • In 1994, he won an Emmy Award for the screenplay The Halloween Tree.
  • In 2000, he was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. [111]
  • For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Bradbury was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 1, 2002. [112]
  • In 2003, he received an honorary doctorate from Woodbury University, where he presented the Ray Bradbury Creativity Award each year until his death. [113]
  • On November 17, 2004, Bradbury received the National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. [114]
  • Bradbury received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement at the 1977 World Fantasy Convention and was named Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy at the 1980 World Science Fiction Convention. [115] In 1989 the Horror Writers Association gave him the fourth or fifth Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in horror fiction[116] and the Science Fiction Writers of America made him its 10th SFWA Grand Master. [117] He won a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 1996 [118] and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 1999, its fourth class of two deceased and two living writers. [119]
  • In 2005, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the National University of Ireland, Galway, at a conferring ceremony in Los Angeles.
  • On April 14, 2007, Bradbury received the Sir Arthur Clarke Award's Special Award, given by Clarke to a recipient of his choice.
  • On April 16, 2007, Bradbury received a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize jury "for his distinguished, prolific, and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy." [120]
  • In 2007, Bradbury was made a Commandeur (Commander) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of the Arts and Letters) by the French government. [121]
  • In 2008, he was named SFPA Grandmaster. [122]
  • On May 17, 2008, Bradbury received the inaugural J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction, presented by the UCR Libraries at the 2008 Eaton Science Fiction Conference, "Chronicling Mars". [123]
  • On November 19, 2008, Bradbury was presented with the Illinois Literary Heritage Award by the Illinois Center for the Book.
  • In 2009, Bradbury was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Columbia College Chicago. [124]
  • In 2010, Spike TVScream AwardsComic-Con Icon Award went to Bradbury
  • In 2012, the NASACuriosity rover landing site ( 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E  /  4.5895°S 137.4417°E  / -4.5895 137.4417 ) [125][126] on the planet Mars was named "Bradbury Landing". [127][128]
  • On December 6, 2012, the Los Angeles street corner at 5th and Flower Streets was named "Ray Bradbury Square" in his honor. [129]
  • On February 24, 2013, Bradbury was honored at the 85th Academy Awards during that event's "In Memoriam" segment. [130]

Bradbury appeared in the documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985), produced and directed by Arnold Leibovit. [131]

Nobel Prize Laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s Oral Histories Are Chronicles of the Future

October 9, 2015

2015 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich. (AP Photo / Sergei Grits)

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The following review of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices From Chernnobyl was published in the April 17, 2006 issue of The Nation.

In the spring of 1986 the English language, and nearly every other, acquired a new word for catastrophe: Chernobyl. On April 25, 1986, when Reactor No. 4 at the nuclear power station near a leafy village some eighty miles north of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev began to melt down, the world had no notion of the disaster about to unfold. Neither did Moscow. In a classic confusion of priorities that would open the floodgates for glasnost and, in due time, a rethinking of the Soviet nuclear landscape, the Politburo was concerned above all with bad press. A year earlier a new general secretary had arisen, Mikhail Gorbachev. Yet even as word spread that the accident at the station had already reached an unprecedented scale, with the specter of a radioactive Armageddon rising over Europe, Gorbachev and company seemed less concerned about the damage issuing from Chernobyl than the damage to Moscow’s reputation.

Having entered the English vernacular, “Chernobyl” has gained currency in the twenty years since the accident. “To go Chernobyl”—whether it be a relationship, teakettle or political career—is to melt down. Yet as scientists will tell you, what is commonly called the “accident” at Chernobyl was anything but. For this disaster was born of human decisions. The engineers at the plant had long been eager to test a theory. Those on the night shift decided to conduct an unauthorized test. Not specialists in nuclear science, they powered the reactor down, disabled emergency backup systems in order to see how long the turbines could operate and, hoping to learn how the reactor’s coolant system would function on low electricity, instead learned how its core would melt. The explosion tore off the reactor’s 1,000-ton steel-and-concrete roof, spewing the now famous radioactive maelstrom into the heavens. In all, Chernobyl released 100 times more radiation than the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The true death toll will never be known. The government of Ukraine has tallied more than 8,000 dead, nearly all victims of the fire and cleanup. The toll, in environmental and chromosomal damage, continues today and will for generations.

The Kremlin’s first reflex was to try to conceal the mess—even from rescue workers. Firefighters and thousands of other local workers were dispatched to the burning station with no warning. The scientists who flew in from Moscow came with only their razors. (They imagined they would stay just a couple of days.) No special clothing was distributed. No one was immediately evacuated from the nearby settlements, the so-called nuclear villages where the station’s workers and their families lived. Thirty-one workers died immediately from exposure. Hundreds more fell violently ill in the first hours. Only after the Swedes detected the fallout did Moscow admit that Chernobyl had become a man-made nuclear Vesuvius. Finally, more than thirty-six hours after the fire broke out, villagers were evacuated. The 48,000 inhabitants of Pripyat, the settlement in the woods closest to the plant, left their homes with as much as they could carry. By May 5, anyone living within twenty miles of the station was evacuated. The marshes and woods around Pripyat were cordoned off from the rest of the world. The region, comprising some seventy-six villages and settlements where more than 100,000 people once lived, has been known ever since simply as “the Zone.”

The world has lived for twenty years with the word “Chernobyl,” but few have ever heard of tiny Belarus, a forlorn nation of 10 million devastatingly contaminated by the “test” at Reactor No. 4. More than 18,000 children in Ukraine have been treated for radiation fallout. They have suffered all varieties of cancer, kidney and thyroid ailments, digestive and nervous disorders, loss of hair and skin pigmentation. But an estimated 70 percent of the radionuclides released from Chernobyl fell on Belarus. Hitler leveled 619 Belarussian villages. Chernobyl took almost as many: 485. Of these, the “liquidators”—the Soviet term for the workers condemned to perform the cleanup—buried seventy in their entirety. Today, one-fifth of the territory of Belarus, a country of farmers, is contaminated.

Svetlana Alexievich’s remarkable book, recording the lives and deaths of her fellow Belarussians, has at last made it into American bookstores. (The book was published in 1999 by the British house Aurum, in a translation by Antonina Bouis.) Hers is a peerless collection of testimony. The text is well translated by Keith Gessen, but it is unfortunate that the book’s American editors have altered its title. Voices From Chernobyl, which just won the National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction, appeared in Russian in 1997 as Chernobyl’skaya molitva (“The Chernobyl Prayer”). The original title is not only more poetic but more accurate. Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror.

A prominent Belarussian writer and journalist, Alexievich is doubtless well aware of what her title has lost in translation. She sees herself not as prophet (in the old Soviet writer’s extracurricular tradition) but as a guide intent on repairing her country’s fractured sense of community. What she longs for is sobornost, that sense of belonging and shared ideals sacrificed long ago to Bolshevik unanimity. Throughout her work, she has sought to bring to light the hidden stories of the Soviet era. One of her first books, U voiny—ne zhenskoe litso (“War’s Unwomanly Face”), an oral history of Soviet soldiers in World War II, which broke with the heroic narratives of official history, was suppressed for two years before Gorbachev allowed it to be published in 1985. That book and its follow-up, Poslednie svideteli (1985), a collection of 100 “children’s stories” of war, sold millions of copies in the former Soviet Union and made Alexievich a glasnost celebrity. Her career hit its peak with Zinky Boys (1992), an unflinching look at the Soviet war in Afghanistan (“zinky” alludes to the zinc coffins in which more than 15,000 Soviet soldiers returned home).

&ldquoI strive to create a text that works as a sign, pointing out undercurrents that lie beneath the facts.&rdquo

As voiceless narrator and hidden editor, Alexievich is aware—too much so, her critics contend—of her singular pursuit. “For me people are like the black boxes found in the debris of airplane crashes,” she told me a few years ago in her small apartment in Minsk, Belarus’s capital. “Someone has to open them.” A graduate of Soviet training schools, Alexievich worked for years within the perimeters of state-sanctioned journalism. In time, however, she reached beyond accepted traditions. Taking the late writer Ales Adamovich as her model, she has created, with greater fluency in each new book, a genre she calls “documentary-literary prose.” “My writing is not just all facts and voices,” she told me. “I strive to create a text that works as a sign, pointing out undercurrents that lie beneath the facts.” For Voices From Chernobyl, Alexievich traveled to the irradiated regions and looked for survivors wherever she could—interviewing more than 500 in all. But she discovered that she remained “hostage to the standard conceptions” of Chernobyl, unable to find “a new way to see it, so it could be understood.” She was too close. This tragedy, unlike the wars she had explored in previous works, was hers too. Alexievich was also a victim of Chernobyl. She suffers from an immune deficiency, discovered after she completed this book. With characteristic humility, however, she decided to let her interlocutors stand on the stage alone.

Alexievich spent three years traveling through Belarus. She sought out witnesses, “workers from the nuclear plant, the scientists, the former Party bureaucrats, doctors, soldiers, helicopter pilots, miners, refugees, re-settlers.” As she recalled in my interview with her: “One of the first liquidators I visited met me with joy. ‘How good it is you’ve come now,’ he said. ‘We didn’t understand everything,’ he said, ‘but we saw everything.’ Two months later he died.”

The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating. She begins with Lyudmilla Ignatenko, wife of fireman Vasily Ignatenko:


I don’t know what I should talk about—about death or about love? Or are they the same?… We were newlyweds. We still walked around holding hands, even if we were just going to the store. I would say to him, “I love you.” But I didn’t know then how much. I had no idea…. We lived in the dormitory of the fire station where he worked on the second floor. There were three other young couples, we all shared a kitchen. On the first floor they kept the trucks. The red fire trucks. That was his job. I always knew what was happening—where he was, how he was…. One night I heard a noise. I looked out the window. He saw me. “Close the window and go back to sleep. There’s a fire at the reactor. I’ll be back soon”…. I didn’t see the explosion itself. Just the flames. Everything was radiant. The whole sky. A tall flame. And smoke. The heat was awful. And he’s still not back…. The smoke was from the burning bitumen, which had covered the roof. He said later it was like walking on tar. They tried to beat down the flames. They kicked at the burning graphite with their feet…. They weren’t wearing their canvas gear. They went off just as they were, in their shirt sleeves. No one told them.

And she speaks with another widow of a liquidator:

We were expecting our first child. My husband wanted a boy and I wanted a girl. The doctors tried to convince me: “You need to get an abortion. Your husband was at Chernobyl.” He was a truck driver they called him in during the first days. He drove sand. But I didn’t believe anyone…. The baby was born dead. She was missing two fingers. A girl. I cried. “She should at least have fingers,” I thought. “She’s a girl.”

One of the helicopter pilots who flew day and night over the burning reactor tells Alexievich that the plan was to dump enough sandbags on the fire to quell the flames. According to scientists today, this tactic only added to the radioactive clouds. The pilot recalls:

I talked to some scientists. One told me, “I could lick your helicopter with my tongue and nothing would happen to me.” Another said, “You’re flying without protection? You don’t want to live too long? Big mistake! Cover yourselves!” We lined the helicopter seats with lead, made ourselves some lead vests, but it turns out those protect you from one set of rays, but not from another. We flew from morning to night. There was nothing spectacular in it. Just work, hard work. At night we watched television—the World Cup was on, so we talked a lot about soccer…. For me, Afghanistan (I was there two years) and then Chernobyl (I was there three months) are the most memorable moments of my life…. I didn’t tell my parents I’d been sent to Chernobyl. My brother happened to be reading Izvestia one day and saw my picture. He brought it to our mom. “Look,” he says, “he’s a hero!” My mother started crying.

Another survivor is Sergei Sobolev, a “professional rocketeer,” now an official with a Chernobyl veterans group who helps run a small Chernobyl museum:

They’ve written dozens of books. Fat volumes, with commentaries. But the event is still beyond any philosophical description. Someone said to me, or maybe I read it, that the problem of Chernobyl presents itself first of all as a problem of self-understanding. That seemed right. I keep waiting for someone intelligent to explain it to me. The way they enlighten me about Stalin, Lenin, Bolshevism. Or the way they keep hammering away at their “Market! Market! Free market!” But we—we who were raised in a world without Chernobyl, now live with Chernobyl.

And one of those soldiers sent to the front:

Your mind would turn over. The order of things was shaken. A woman would milk her cow, and next to her there’d be a soldier who had to make sure that when she was done milking, she’d pour the milk out on the ground. An old woman carries a basket of eggs, and next to her there’s a soldier walking to make sure she buries them. The farmers were raising their precious potatoes, harvesting them really quietly, but in fact they had to be buried. The worst part was, the least comprehensible part, was that everything was so—beautiful! That was the worst. All around, it was just beautiful. I would never see such people again. Everyone’s faces just looked crazy. Their faces did, and so did ours.

The Chernobyl reactor was a Soviet construction of unique design. It is commonly known as an RBMK-1000, a Russian acronym that stands for Reaktor Bolshoi Moshchnosty Kanalny—a Reactor of Large Power with Channels. Nuclear scientists in the West do not like the RBMK design. They fear its lack of a containment shell and worry that its core demands great quantities of combustible graphite. When I studied in Moscow in the first years after the Chernobyl disaster, I used to visit a friend in a dacha complex for elite Soviet academics in the woods outside Moscow. Across the way lived the hero-scientist who designed the RBMK model. He never came out of his dacha. He had fallen far from favor. His design, however, lives on.

The disaster at Chernobyl did nothing to diminish the popularity of nuclear power in Russia among the authorities. The country has ten operational nuclear power plants, with thirty-one reactor units (and six more still being built). Eleven of these are the Chernobyl-standard RBMK reactors. At the same time, in Pripyat and the abandoned villages around it, a strange phenomenon has evolved in the decades since the disaster. Officially, the Zone remains off-limits. Scientists who travel there report remarkable findings—an abundance of natural beauty, of renewed flora and fauna. Debate rages over the scale, and half-life, of the damage. Reactor No. 4 is known today simply as “the Cover.” How many tons of nuclear fuel its core holds remains unknown. Nor does anyone know how much radiation is seeping from the Cover’s fissures, or how long it will stand. But one element of the unforeseen afterlife is undeniable: More and more former residents have returned to the Zone. By now more than 1,000 people have come back to live among the spectral villages of the radioactive marsh and woods. A Ukrainian website that offers Ukrainian brides and Ukrainian babies now advertises “Chernobyl Tours,” as if the Zone were a vacation spot.

Chronicles from the Future: The accident of Andrew Northam - History


The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe


A Chernobyl survivor and award-winning historian "mercilessly chronicles the absurdities of the Soviet system" in this "vividly empathetic" account of the worst nuclear accident in history ( The Wall Street Journal ).

On the morning of April 26, 1986, Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens died of radiation poisoning, fallout contaminated half the continent, and thousands fell ill.

In Chernobyl , Serhii Plokhy draws on new sources to tell the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, and soldiers who heroically extinguished the nuclear inferno. He lays bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of the Communist party rule, the regime's control over scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development over all else.

Today, the risk of another Chernobyl looms in the mismanagement of nuclear power in the developing world. A moving and definitive account, Chernobyl is also an urgent call to action.

Praise For Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe&hellip

"A masterful account of how the USSR's bureaucratic dysfunction, censorship, and impossible economic targets produced the disaster and hindered the response."—New York Review of Books

"Gripping, meticulously researched. [Mr. Plokhy] mercilessly chronicles the absurdities of the Soviet system and the arrogance of its apparatchiks. But the fact that he grew up fewer than 500 kilometers south of Chernobyl probably accounts for his vividly empathetic descriptions of the people on the ground -- the plant managers and employees, the firefighters, soldiers and others -- who risked their lives to contain the damage."—Wall Street Journal

"The bare outline of the Chernobyl fire and the Soviet silence have been well covered. Mr. Plokhy, who directs the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard, adds much detail to the. construction that caused the failure, and the false assignment of blame to operating engineers. [His] most telling disclosures deal with how the Soviet subterfuges played a major role in Ukraine's decision to become an independent nation once the Soviet Union disintegrated."—Washington Times

"A lucid account of how the Soviet mania for nuclear power combined with endemic shoddiness in the industrial sector and near-paranoid habits of state secrecy led to the 1986 disaster. The most comprehensive and convincing history of Chernobyl yet to appear in English."—Financial Times

"The first comprehensive history of the Chernobyl disaster. here at last is the monumental history the disaster deserves."—Julie McDowall, Times

"A work of deep scholarship and powerful stroytelling. Plokhy is the master of the telling detail."—Victory Sebestyen, Sunday Times

"Compelling. Plokhy's well-paced narrative plunges the reader into the sweaty, nervous tension of the Chernobyl control room on the fateful night when human frailty and design flaws combined to such devastating effect."—Guardian

"Plokhy's book. sustains a tone of thoughtful observation that is neither too detached nor heavily invested in a particular agenda. [He] delves deeper into the political fallout of Chernobyl, which played a significant role in the break-up of the Soviet Union."—New Statesman

"Haunting. Plokhy's. voice is humane and inflected with nostalgia. His Chernobyl and Prypiat emerge vividly -- as perhaps all disaster -- afflicted cities must-as shattered idylls."—Spectator

"Plokhy recounts the circumstances of the accident and its aftermath in painstaking detail. He tells the story with great assurance and style. A fierce and at times personal indictment of the ideology, bureaucracy and overconfidence of the Soviet system, as well as a strident condemnation of all modern states that continue to pursue military or economic objectives to the detriment of their populations and the environment."—Literary Review

"A history of the nuclear disaster that set precedents -- and standards -- for future mishaps of the kind. Plokhy. concludes that even in the wake of Chernobyl, we have not gotten much better at containing meltdowns. A thoughtful study of catastrophe, unintended consequences, and, likely, nuclear calamities to come."—Kirkus Reviews

"The most comprehensive exploration of the events that led to the Chernobyl disaster. Engrossing."—Library Journal

"Plokhy. is a brilliant interpreter not only of the events themselves but of their long-term historical significance. As moving as it is painstakingly researched, this book is a tour de force and a cracking read."—Observer

"Historian Serhii Plokhy's deft, richly detailed account draws on newly opened archives and weaves in stories of players such as Chernobyl director Viktor Briukhanov."—Nature

"[Plokhy] casts his lyrical eye on a vast amount of detail, giving readers a sense of dramatic urgency that makes his account difficult to put down. The further Chernobyl recedes in time, Plokhy writes, the more it fades into myth. His book, however, should help bring us back to reality."—Kristen Iversen, American Scholar

"Serhii Plokhy provides the definitive story of the Chernobyl crisis and its aftermath, skillfully covering all angles from the scientific story, the humanitarian and economic costs of the clean-up, the manner in which the explosion forced Gorbachev to jump-start his perestroika reforms, and the igniting of Ukrainian nationalism." —Andrew Wilson, Professor of Ukrainian Studies, UCL

"Serhii Plokhy has produced a highly readable account of the Chernobyl disaster and its political impact. It is destined to be the authoritative account for years to come."
John Herbst, Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

"Serhii Plokhy is uniquely qualified to tell this tragic story: he writes not only as a major historian, but also as someone who was living with his family under the cloud of the Chernobyl disaster at the time. The result is as riveting as a novel."
Mary Elise Sarotte, author of The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

" Chernobyl lays out in devastating detail how the Soviets were vastly unprepared, in ways small and large, for what became the worst disaster in the history of nuclear energy. A riveting account. Is it possible that the world might someday forget the horrors that unfolded there three decades ago? Books like Plokhy's should help ensure that that doesn't happen."—Henry Fountain, Undark

"An insightful and important book, that often reads like a good thriller, and that exposes the danger of mixing powerful technology with irresponsible politics."
Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Chronicles of the Crazy Times (4)

So now the left in Britain wants to take down statues of . . . (checks notes) . . . Gandhi. Apparently he was “a fascist, racist and sexual predator.” Anyone who read Richard Grenier’s classic book The Gandhi Nobody Knows knew this a long time ago, but I thought his anti-colonial bona fides kept him in good standing with the Intersectionale.

I don’t think conservatives should expend much energy opposing the removal of Confederate statues, since nearly all of them were Democrats who wanted to destroy the United States. Sort of like Democrats today. In fact, for consistency’s sake we can suggest that the statues of disloyal Democrats of the 1860s be replaced with statues of disloyal Democrats today. Just so long as Gov. Ralph Northam’s statue has him in blackface.

Graybeards may recall one of James Watt’s more controversial (which means correct) remarks from his time as Interior Secretary back under Ronaldus Magnus, which went something like: “If you want to see socialism in action in this country, go visit an Indian reservation.”

Now you can visit CHAZ in Seattle instead. Which is why I think we should encourage “autonomous zones” in just about every major (Democrat) city: just think of them as “hippie reservations.”

Defund the police? I wonder if any of the idiots proposing this have any clue that New York’s use of the hated “stop and frisk” practice came about because Mayor Bloomberg . . . defunded the police. Not deliberately, or with the clear intent of the current anti-police crusaders. Rather, when New York’s city budget got badly squeezed in the years after 9/11, New York City cut back on paying overtime for neighborhood patrols, which was one of the means New York used to cut down crime so effectively under Mayor Giuliani. You can’t prevent crime without enough officers on the street, but overtime is expensive. So “stop and frisk” became the low-budget substitute for crime prevention. There are certain to be a lot of perverse effects of serious police defunding if it comes about.

• By the way, while we’re on the subject of the New York police, might as well share this data:

Believe it or not, the United States is arguably underpoliced. At least compared to European nations. On a per capita basis, the United States has one-third fewer police officers than the European average. You can read Alex Tabarrock’s very interesting roundup of this point here.

Could some people on the left be getting nervous flashbacks worrying about whether the current protests and riots may lead to a backlash? There’s a handwringing piece in The Nation from Eric Alterman right now that gives voice to this concern. The piece is actually a review of a new book by Bryan Burrough named Days of Rage, which is a history of the Weather Underground and other precursors to today’s Antifa back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Days of Rage is simultaneously disturbing and annoying. It’s disturbing because of the remarkable combination of stupidity, ignorance, and arrogance shown by these extremists. Absolutely nothing they did helped bring about a more equitable or compassionate country (leftist terrorism was even more destructive in Italy and Germany). Yes, they inspired a lawless reaction from the Nixon administration and the FBI, which resorted to criminal behavior of its own to stamp them out. And yes, they captured the occasional headline—most spectacularly when three members of the Weather Underground blew themselves up in a Greenwich Village townhouse. But every time they called for solidarity from those they considered natural allies—the poor, the oppressed, the discriminated-against—they were met with apathy, and often contempt. . .

[T]he largely forgotten story in Days of Rage should lead us to ask—lest history repeat itself as violent farce—why the most extreme, however nutty, are so frequently able to hijack movements purporting to fight for social justice.

I’ll offer an answer: because weak-minded liberals can’t stand up to the extremists in their midst.


Edible Paper. Transforming your baby shower cakes from this.

Thanks to Susan H., Liana E., Nathan S., Dana H., Taryn, Kerry M., Adam D., Wendy M., Mollie B., who think these cakes look pretty tearable.

P.S. You know what's better than edible paper? EDIBLE CHEESE PAPER:

No, it's not a real cheese printer (booo), but with these prank gift boxes you can make your friends and family THINK it is. There's also an "ear wax candle kit" and an especially cruel 12,000 piece puzzle box of a solid blue sky. DASTARDLY.

And from my other blog, Epbot:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The political crisis engulfing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has triggered a flurry of comparisons to another chief executive who once found himself facing deafening calls from fellow Democrats to resign: Virginia’s Ralph Northam.

News articles, opinion pieces and Twitter hot takes comparing the two have proliferated in the past week.

“#Cuomo is pulling a Northam,” tweeted veteran political analyst Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Like Cuomo, Northam initially faced nearly unanimous calls from his own party to resign after a scandal erupted over a racist photo in his medical school yearbook. But he refused to step down. The pressure eased after his two potential successors, Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, became embroiled in their own controversies.

While it’s true that Cuomo and Northam are both high-profile Democrats who have found themselves at odds with their party and at the center of a national news media frenzy, Northam’s supporters and some outside political observers say that’s where the similarities end.

“I don’t see any comparison,” said state Sen. Richard Stuart, a Republican and personal friend of the Virginia governor. Stuart declined to discuss the matter at length.

In the two years since news of the yearbook photo broke, Northam has evolved from a one-time pariah to a respected state leader whose endorsement is coveted in this year’s competitive statewide elections.

Northam managed to hang on initially by laying low, even using underground tunnels at the state Capitol to stay out of sight. But then he got to work rebuilding trust — with Black lawmakers in particular — and making good on his promise to spend the rest of his term addressing Virginia’s long history of racism and inequity.

Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward multiple women, including several former staffers in his administration. The accusations, which have sparked an impeachment inquiry and an investigation into his workplace conduct, range from groping under a woman’s shirt to asking unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating.

As calls from top Democrats for his resignation have mounted, the governor has said he “never touched anyone inappropriately” and has called some allegations false.

One key difference between the two governors’ situations is that the accusations against Cuomo deal with behaviors during his term in office, while the controversy that engulfed Northam involved his life decades ago, well before he entered politics, noted Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University.

In early 2019, a conservative news outlet first reported that a photo on Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page showed a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. The governor first admitted he was in the picture, and then the next day denied it, but also acknowledged putting on blackface to imitate Michael Jackson at a dance contest decades ago.

Northam and Cuomo are also two very different men.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist and onetime volunteer medical director of a children’s hospice, is softer spoken. He was well liked during his time in the General Assembly, where he first jumped into politics. Voters often described him as “decent” and “honest.”

Cuomo, meanwhile, governs in a forceful, adversarial style that professor Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, called aggressive if not “on the bullying side.”

“When bullies get into trouble, they tend to have fewer allies. And that may explain part of the reason why Northam was able to survive,” Farnsworth said.

Northam has made good on his racial equality pledge in splashy ways — pledging to remove a soaring state-owned statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from downtown Richmond — and quieter ones, including empaneling a commission to examine old, racist state laws still on the books.

He also appointed a Cabinet-level diversity director tasked with making government more inclusive and sought funding for a host of initiatives aimed at more prominently telling the story of Black history in the public sphere. He created a panel to study how Black history is taught in schools. He backed proposals to resolve racial disparities in maternal health, and he’s worked with the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly to pass a host of criminal justice reforms, including a measure this year that will repeal the death penalty.

Within two months of the yearbook scandal breaking, Northam was back to making regular public appearances. Nine months later he was back on the campaign trail, and he’s now on his way to finishing up a term in office that has seen Virginia transformed into an outlier in the South through progressive legislation. Virginia governors are prohibited from serving consecutive terms.

“He’s been what I believe to be the most consequential governor in Virginia’s history, especially when it comes to issues of racial equity,” said Jay Jones, a Democratic delegate challenging Herring in the attorney general’s race. Jones recently picked up one of Northam’s coveted endorsements.

A final difference between Cuomo and Northam?

Cuomo had been expected to run for a fourth term in 2022.

As for Northam, his senior political adviser Mark Bergman said: “He will never be running for office again.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Virginia Gov. Northam To Remove Prominent Statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond

Statues of Confederate leaders that have adorned Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, for generations are going to be history soon, as leaders in Virginia are using the protests linked to the death of George Floyd as a reason to exile the statues from their historic, prominent locations.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam will announce Thursday that he will order the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to The Associated Press.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney on Wednesday said he will seek to take down statues of Confederate leaders that are on city property, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Lee’s statue is on state land, while monuments to Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart are on city land.

Also on city property is a statue to Matthew Maury, who had a prestigious career in nautical research prior to the Civil War, but later served as a Confederate officer.

State Del. Jay Jones, a black lawmaker from Norfolk, said he was “overcome” by emotion when he learned the statue would come down.

“That is a symbol for so many people, black and otherwise, of a time gone by of hate and oppression and being made to feel less than,” he said.

Northam will shunt Lee’s statue into storage until some other place for it can be found, an unnamed administration official told the AP.

Stoney said his ordinance to topple Confederate statutes will be introduced July 1, the effective date of a new state law that ends state protection for Confederate monuments and allows local governments to decide whether they stay or go.

“[R]emoving these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians,” Stoney said in a statement. “Richmond is no longer the Capital of the Confederacy – it is filled with diversity and love for all – and we need to demonstrate that.”

First they burn down the nation and now they erase a piece of American history: Virginia governor announced he will remove the Richmond statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. #RobertELee

— SpanishAmerican2020 (@Gunowner47) June 3, 2020

Historic day for Richmond. After days of protest, the confederate statues will be removed.

— Maggie (@MaggieMaps) June 3, 2020

Gov. Northam is a weak, spineless individual. Those who ignore history, it in this case remove history, are destined to repeat it.

Virginia Gov. Northam to order removal of Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond

— Old Man Liberty (@old_man_liberty) June 3, 2020

Joseph Rogers, an organizer with the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, supported removing the statues.

“I am proud to be black, proud to be Southern, proud to be here right now,” he said.

Monuments to the Confederacy have been a target in the current national environment shaped by protests and riots that have taken place after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In Alexandria, Virginia, a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier titled “Appomattox” was taken down this week, Fox News reported. In Birmingham, Alabama, a five-story tall obelisk honoring Confederate troops is being removed.

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