Ray Bradbury

Born on August 22 1920, Ray Bradbury is one of the most prolific and recognized authors of the last century. Influenced by science fiction stories like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers at an early age, he began publishing his own stories by the late 1930s, eventually earning his first paid piece in Super Science Stories in 1941. They paid him $15.

Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury
Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

By 1947, Bradbury published his first book, a collection of short stories entitled Dark Carnival. The book eventually went out-of-print and is now one of the most sought after science fiction titles in existence according to BookFinder.com's annual out-of-print book report.

A short while later a chance encounter with critic and novelist Christopher Isherwood helped launch Bradbury's career. Bradbury was able to put his next work, The Martian Chronicles, into the hands of the respected critic; a move that led to a glowing review and a huge boost to his career. The Martian Chronicles was described by Bradbury as "a book of stories pretending to be a novel" and was originally published in the 1940s in science fiction magazines. Describing the colonization of Mars by Earth, it was originally set in 1999-2026, however in 1997 the book was reprinted and all dates were advanced by 31 years to maintain its futuristic feel. Bradbury also used this same concept of grouping short stories within a related concept in his next publication The Illustrated Man.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In 1953, Bradbury published what would be his most recognized title, the dystopian Fahrenheit 451. The novel is set in a hedonistic future where reading has been outlawed and firemen are charged with burning any books they find. Long a hit with bibliophiles and librarians, the first edition was published in three formats: the true first paperback which preceded the hardcover by six weeks, the standard hardcover, and an asbestos-bound signed promotional edition limited to 200 copies.

Bradbury continues to write to this day not only penning novels and short stories but a large number of poetry anthologies, plays, screenplays, non-fiction, and children's books.