March 4, 2015

Live long and prosper: Leonard Nimoy reads Ray Bradbury


Leonard Nimoy (via Wikimedia)

Leonard Nimoy (via Wikimedia)

It’s been nearly fifty years since Star Trek first aired on NBC, but Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock—the cool, cerebral, half-human, half-Vulcan officer aboard the starship Enterprise—has remained one of the best-loved and most enduring characters in modern science fiction.

Nimoy, who died last week in his home in Bel Air at the age of 83, was not only an award-winning actor, but also an Army veteran, a poet, a photographer, a director, a political activist, author of the autobiographies I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995), and a musician.

Though “critical consensus was that his music was mortifying” (fine, but he does a perfectly respectable Johnny Cash), Nimoy’s sonorous voice was integral to the magic that was Spock, and it’s on full display in these haunting recordings of Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” and “Usher II” from The Martian Chronicles and “The Veldt” and “Marionettes Inc” from The Illustrated Man.

Bradbury is himself, of course, an icon of the genre. His Fahrenheit 451 is widely considered one of the most influential novels of the 20th century and its controversial place in American letters (alternately banned and embraced) helped rescue science fiction from literary ghettoization.

Here we offer up the collaboration of two masters in salute to Leonard Nimoy, and to Mr. Spock.

Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.