Wednesday 17 January 2024


I am very honoured to be among recipients of letters included in Remembrance: Selected Correspondence of Ray Bradbury, edited by Jonathan R. Eller; recipients such as Grahame Greene, Arthur C. Clark, Federico Fellini, Gore Vidal, Carl Sandburg, Francois Truffaut and Bertrand Russell.
I first exchanged letters with Ray in 1974 and we continued to write to one another and, later meet up in London and L.A., until his death 38 years later. That first letter of Ray's, in response to an enquiry from a supremely confident 25-year-old admirer, was a small but exquisite masterpiece: a fireworks display of words, thoughts and images: an explosion of stimulating ideas, questions and challenges. Over twice my age and an international literary superstar, he replied as if to an equal with such vigorous engagement and indulgent charm that, however unlikely it seems to me now, could only ever be read as an invitation to begin a friendship...
What I couldn't have known was that it would be a friendship would bring me, across nearly four decades, letters, notes, postcards and doodles, an annual Christmas poem (and, no surprise, zany Halloween greetings); articles, cuttings and clippings; play-scripts and hand-bills; signed books and an endorsement for the cover one of my books – and an opportunity to dramatise The Illustrated Man and more than half-a-dozen of his short stories for radio.
The letter itself and two of my mine to Ray (which I hadn't seen since I wrote them!) are chiefly concerned with a conversation about Walt Disney's use in his theme-parks of 'Audio-Animatronic' technology – or, to put it in non-Disney speak, 'robots'! It seems that, half-a-century ago, we were already debating the pros and cons of what we would now refer to as 'AI': Ray, obviously and unashamedly 'pro'; me anxiously, 'con'. 
In a few months time it will be fifty years since that wonderful letter arrived and almost twelve years since Ray's death and yet I remain as moved and eternally grateful to have received it, not just for the content, but for all the memories of which it was but the first...

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