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Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story Cycles (slipcased edition)


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“I can imagine all kinds of worlds and places,” Neil Gaiman has written, “but I cannot imagine a world without Bradbury.” A master storyteller and visionary champion of creative freedom, Ray Bradbury is one of the most beloved and influential writers of our time. In books that look forward to astonishing futures and backward to evanescent realms of memory, he elevated speculative fiction from the pages of the pulps to the vital center of American literary culture. This definitive Library of America edition gathers his novels and story cycles of the 1950s and 1960s for the first time.

Published at the hopeful dawn of the space age, and presented here in the complete, twenty-eight story-chapter form that Bradbury came to prefer, the linked tales of The Martian Chronicles (1950) envision an extraterrestrial future for humankind. Bradbury’s saga of the discovery, exploitation, and abandonment of Mars is not at all triumphal, until a second wave of settlers—free at last from earthly oppression and saved from atomic annihilation—pose a fateful question: will humans be able to make the best of their second chance, as Martians?

In the dystopian future of Fahrenheit 451 (1953), the Firemen have one job: to incinerate books and all they contain, while mindless, big-screen entertainments distract the masses. But one of these Firemen, Guy Montag, asks why. Sneaking forbidden volumes home and meeting other clandestine readers, Montag becomes the unlikely hero of this now-classic novel, at once literary thriller and perennially relevant political fable.

Dandelion Wine (1957) is a fond, backward glance, recollecting the adventures of the summer of 1928 through the eyes of twelve-year-old Douglas Spaul- ding, a boy much like Bradbury himself, as he comes of age in Green Town, Illinois. Full of gentle humor and a sense of wonder, this nostalgic novel pays homage to life’s ephemeral joys.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) is set in pleasant Green Town too—but with a chilling difference. When a traveling carnival arrives mysteriously one autumn night, the lives of the novel’s two young protagonists are altered forever. In what R. L. Stine called “the scariest book I ever read,” Will and Jim must join an ultimate-stakes battle against evil, as Bradbury imagines supernatural terror with stunning inventiveness.

Rounding out the volume are a half-dozen shorter pieces—taken from rare pamphlets, fanzines, and other hard-to-find sources, some never-before reprinted—in which Bradbury reflects on his writing and on the sources of his creativity.

Jonathan R. Eller, editor, is the author of the definitive, three-volume Ray Bradbury biography, which includes Becoming Ray Bradbury, Ray Bradbury Unbound, and Bradbury Beyond Apollo—and served as general editor of the Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury and The New Bradbury Review. He is emeritus Chancellor’s Professor of English at Indiana University and cofounder of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, which he directed for a decade until his retirement in 2021.

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