July 23, 2010

Famous sci-fi writer stages very futuristic event in NYC


Sam Weller and the Skyped Ray Bradbury

Sam Weller and the Skyped Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, reigning King of Sci-fi, was transported via fiber optics from his home in Los Angeles to New York City yesterday.

According to this post on the Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog, “Although Ray Bradbury resides in Los Angeles, he made a 45-minute appearance in New York Wednesday night to chat with his biographer Sam Weller about Weller’s book, Listen to the Echoes; The Ray Bradbury Interviews (Melville House).” The 90-year-old Bradbury video-phoned in via Skype from his living room to speak with Weller, who sat next to a projection of Bradbury in front of a 120 people in Soho’s McNally Jackson Bookstore.

Bradbury, a benign king, is well-loved among both literati and the sci-fi set, so the place was packed. According to the Journal:

In order to accommodate the massive crowd, the SoHo independent bookstore staff rearranged the front of the store as Bradbury lovers eagerly grabbed available chairs. The café closed early to ensure the sputtering cappuccino machine would finish its noisy rounds before Weller began. Complete silence fell upon the room as if a sacred event was to begin.

Dialing California, the coffee machine dared not sputter as the audience hung in anticipation of the Skype session.

The first call attempt failed, then all at once sunlight mixed with big black glasses and filled the screen. Bradbury waved, Weller waved, like two old friends meeting once again. For the duration of the conversation Weller softly and comfortably questioned a smiling Bradbury, knowing how the man would respond to each of his questions.

Addressing the shear magnitude of his output – over 600 short stories alone – Bradbury told the audience, “I’m a great big pomegranate that exploded all over the place and now my seeds are everywhere.”

He also told the story of writing his famous, and still best-selling, Fahrenheit 451:

“I found a typewriter in the back of the library at UCLA. It cost 10 cents for a half hour. I spent nine days at that typewriter and it cost me $9.80 to write Fahrenheit 451,” said Bradbury.

As Weller’s interview drew to a close, he turned the computer toward the audience, which enthusiastically waved good-bye to Bradbury. Bradbury waved back, said good-bye, and signed out.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.