Story of a Writer shows all the contradictions the late Ray Bradbury embodied: An unstoppably curious admirer of science and technology who some called a “mechanical moron,” a non-driver in midcentury Los Angeles, an imaginer of the future who worked in a basement crowded with paper files and tribal masks. We watch the classic IBM motto “THINK” catch the 43-year-old writer’s eye, yet we notice another sign posted above his typewriter: “DON’T THINK!” This half-hour television documentary captures that most instinctual of craftsmen in the rational genre of science fiction in all sorts of activities grounded in his time, place, and profession: telling stories and performing magic for his daughters, offering guidance to younger writers, “workshopping” a piece with a circle of associates in his living room, bicycling through town to get ideas, and touring a fallout shelter showground.
Produced by David L. Wolper, best known for programs like Roots, The Thorn Birds, and This is Elvis, Story of a Writer interweaves with these scenes from Bradbury’s daily life a jaggedly cinematic adaptation of his short story “Dial Double Zero.” In it, a man receives a series of unwanted phone calls from what eventually starts to sound like the phone system itself, which has, for unexplained reasons, spontaneously developed intelligence. In Bradbury’s imagination, technology may do troubling things, but rarely malevolent ones. “I’ve always been in favor of science that can prolong and beautify our lives,” he says in voiceover. The broadcast even includes one of Bradbury’s many plainspoken but enthusiastic lectures about the craft of writing, which has much in common with his similarly themed 2001 speech previously featured on Open Culture. As he sums up his recommendations to aspirants concerned about the quality of their work: ”It doesn’t have to be the greatest. It does have to be you.”
via The Atlantic