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Apr 23, 2007
Trekker - Forbes

Science-fiction legend Ray Bradbury's idea of exotic travel has always been a little bit...different.

Few people have covered more intellectual and physical territory than Ray Bradbury, author of 58 books, including Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man and other required reading for modern civilization, both domestic and extraterrestrial. He even has an asteroid named after him. Last fall saw the release of his 11th novel, Farewell Summer, the sequel to Dandelion Wine. Another book is due out this summer. From his Los Angeles home, he spoke with contributing editor Finn-Olaf Jones.

Is it true you've never driven a car?

Until I was 38 I didn't have any income to even buy a car. When we had some success, my wife learned to drive and we got a car and she did all the driving. It worked wonderfully.

Fifty-six years ago in The Martian Chronicles you envisioned humans colonizing Mars by 2005. Where did we go wrong?

The terrible thing is we had our adventures on the moon and then someone invented the space shuttle, which is a bore. It's only 300 miles up. That's not exciting. You have to have a firm foundation on the moon to go to Mars.

At least we now have space tourists.

I don't want tourists going up there, I want real explorers. They'll probably [reach Mars] ten years after I'm dead. I want them to take me up and bury me there.

Any favorite destinations other than outer space?

I can't think there's a better trip than going to London for ten days and seeing ten plays, reviewers be damned.

Where's the best place to travel if you want to write?

L.A. is the best environment for a writer because you are given freedom. There's not that snobbery you get from the intellectuals in New York, and no one tells you what to do. Paris is also a wonderful place for that. Every block there has enough inspiration for ten novels.

This is the third book inspired by your childhood in Waukegan, Illinois. Do you ever go back?

Many times. The ravine and other places from my childhood and in the books are still there. They named a park after me.

You are arguably the greatest writer for interplanetary travel, but who is the best travel writer for those sticking to our humble planet?

F. Scott Fitzgerald. His novels had so many asides--about the truth of living and the surroundings, the scenery, what have you. Tender Is the Night has more texture of place than anything I've ever read. Every time I go to Paris I buy another copy of a Fitzgerald book and walk from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, stopping in the many cafés along the way to read.

Ever think of slowing down after 58 books?

I can't. I still have vibrations that come through me that need to come out. Since my stroke I've not been able to use my hands to type. Now I dictate everything over the phone to my daughter in Arizona, who faxes me the pages the next day for corrections. I have a new play called The Messiah [which had a run] in Pasadena, and my next book will be published in July.

Do you ever get recognized in Europe?

Only twice. First time it was by Madame Chirac at a fashion show, who recognized me from a book jacket photo. The other time was when I got off in the train station in Paris and there were 200 people waiting for a cab. Around the corner came a porter who looked at me and froze. "Monsieur Bradbury, de Chroniques Martiennes?" And I said, " Oui." He went around the back and got me a cab right away.

Weren't you afraid to fly for most of your life?I managed to avoid it until I was 62. I was at the opening of the Spaceship Earth ride which I helped design for Disney's Epcot in Florida. My train going home was canceled, so I thought God was telling me, "Fly, dummy." They gave me three double martinis and poured me in my seat, where I clutched the armrests for the entire flight. When we crossed the Grand Canyon, Roy Disney came up and said, "Do you want to have a look?" and I said, "Noooo, that's alright." Since then, I crossed the Atlantic something like 20 times on the Concorde, but the key to avoiding fear on that was to not look at the bill
   
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