Leonard Nimoy Reads Ray Bradbury Stories From The Martian Chronicles & The Illustrated Man (1975–76)

Ray Brad­bury, author of The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles and Fahren­heit 451, con­tributed to sci­ence fic­tion a high­ly dis­tinc­tive voice; the now depart­ed Leonard NimoyStar Trek’s Mr. Spock, also con­tributed to sci­ence fic­tion a high­ly dis­tinc­tive voice. In the mid-sev­en­ties, a pair of record albums came out that togeth­er offered a tru­ly sin­gu­lar lis­ten­ing expe­ri­ence: the voice of Brad­bury in the voice of Nimoy.

1975’s The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles and 1976’s The Illus­trat­ed Man con­tain Nimoy’s ren­di­tions of two well-known sto­ries, one per side, from each of Brad­bury’s epony­mous books. At the top of the post, you can hear The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles’There Will Come Soft Rains,” and just below, “Ush­er II.” At the bot­tom of the post, we have The Illus­trat­ed Man’s “The Veldt” and “Mar­i­onettes Inc.” You can also hear both sides of the albums in a sin­gle Youtube playlist.

In our inter­net age, with its abun­dance of down­load­able audio and mobile media deliv­ery sys­tems, we’ve grown thor­ough­ly accus­tomed to the idea of the audio book. But 40 years ago, in the age of twelve-inch vinyl discs that could bare­ly hold 45 min­utes of con­tent, the ful­ly real­ized con­cept must have seemed more like some­thing we would thrill to Brad­bury him­self writ­ing about, or Nimoy him­self using on tele­vi­sion. But the vision­ar­ies in this case worked at the record label Caed­mon, “a pio­neer in the audio­book busi­ness,” accord­ing to the Inter­net Archive, “the first com­pa­ny to sell spo­ken word record­ings to the pub­lic,” and “the ‘seed’ of the audio­book indus­try.” They grew famous putting out record­ings of lit­er­ary lumi­nar­ies read­ing their own work: Dylan Thomas read­ing Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot read­ing T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein read­ing Gertrude Stein. But to my mind — or to my ear, any­way — the best of it hap­pened at the inter­sec­tions, like this one, of an era-defin­ing author, and a dif­fer­ent era-defin­ing read­er.

 The Veldt

Mar­i­onettes Inc.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leonard Nimoy Nar­rates Short Film About NASA’s Dawn: A Voy­age to the Ori­gins of the Solar Sys­tem

Ray Brad­bury: “The Things That You Love Should Be Things That You Do.” “Books Teach Us That”

Ray Brad­bury: Sto­ry of a Writer 1963 Film Cap­tures the Para­dox­i­cal Late Sci-Fi Author

Ray Brad­bury Gives 12 Pieces of Writ­ing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

Ray Brad­bury: Lit­er­a­ture is the Safe­ty Valve of Civ­i­liza­tion

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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