January 2nd is not only Issac Asimov's birthday, but also national Science Fiction Day. And who better to tribute on this day than the man who turned me onto science fiction in the first place-- nope, not Isaac Asimov, but legendary writer, Ray Bradbury! Does he really need an introduction here? I'm sure many of you have a favorite story or film adaptation of his, and maybe you have a wonderful memory of that defining moment of youth, when you really noticed how special he was from other writers, --thusly hooking you in some way to this glorious genre forever. For me it was mid 70's, and it was another story day in my elementary class, a time which usually meant doodling monsters on notebook paper while barely listening to whatever tale our teacher had chosen to read that week. But this time was different. It wasn't about a mouse on a tiny motorcycle, or something about a boring old president, and it wasn't really "science fiction" in the typical sense of space travel, futuristic robots, or an end of the world scenario. It was a ghost story, and it was a sad, gentle little one at that, one about loss, and how it clings to us, and haunts us for the rest of our lives. And as my teacher read "The Lake" to us, I couldn't help but notice just how beautifully written it was, every word perfect, captivating. And when she reached the climax I experienced another childhood first-- goose bumps! So here it is for you if you've never read it, from the amazing EC comic book adaptation found in the June-July 1953 issue of Vault of Horror #31, illustrated by Joe Orlando. And if you're interested in reading the original pulp short story published in Weird Tales Volume 37 #5, it can be found on the Internet Archive HERE! There's also a filmed adaptation from the Ray Bradbury Theatre anthology TV series from 1989, HERE. Happy Science Fiction Day, everyone-- and welcome to 2022!
A beautiful, melancholy story, and when they were actually paying Mr. Bradbury :)
Note in the original story, the ending is "I walked back up the beach to where a strange, awful person named Margaret was waiting for me, smiling" I'm going to assume it was Al who softened the ending; the whole point is our hero is haunted to the point where he thinks of his wife that way. It's still a great story, regardless.
I thought this was a great distillation of the story, writing-wise; and artistically it was obviously a real labor of love. The vegetation in the panels along the bottom of page four is way more amazing than even an excellent comics book story should require. Wow.
I fell in love with Bradbury like this:
"The boys ached, listening. The tomb breathed out a sick exhalation of paprika, cinnamon, and powdered camel dung. Somewhere, a mummy dreamed, coughed in its sleep, unraveled a bandage, twitched its dusty tongue and turned over for another thousand-
Dusty tongue! Holy cow. Prose you can taste. I have no idea what age I was. I'm sure I discovered a thin, softcover The Halloween Tree already well-used on our own shelves sometime in my single-digits. I read it and read it and I'm still reading it regularly.
The Halloween Tree hooked me, too. That, and Something Wicked This Way Comes Fantastic mastery of the feeling of words.
I was pretty sure I'd see The Halloween Tree mentioned here in the comments... after story day I remember going to the library later that week to find something on my own to read by Ray, and that title to me, seemed the most intriguing at that age as well. Incredible story. Thank you Ray Bradbury for all you gave us, and thank you AEET readers for sharing your memories too! :)
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