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IUPUI hosts sci-fi master Ray Bradbury artifacts, awards in Cavanaugh Hall

Oct 3, 2017
Jonathan Eller stands in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.
Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, stands in a recreation of Ray Bradbury’s office. The space is located in Cavanaugh Hall.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

In a lower level of Cavanaugh Hall, one of the most prolific and renowned 20th-century American science fiction writers’ memory – and his many, many works – are preserved in impressive and sometimes spooky detail.

The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies is packed with the author’s publications, awards, personal artifacts and many Halloween-worthy souvenirs, like a grotesque and demonic mask that is displayed on one of the author’s many bookcases. The mask was used in conceptual work for the character Moundshroud for the 1993 Hanna-Barbera animated version of “The Halloween Tree.”

“This is a character whom the Halloween trick-or-treaters finally realize is, really, the manifestation of death that comes out every Halloween,” said Jonathan R. Eller, director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and Chancellor’s Professor of English. “The voice of Moundshroud was done by the actor Leonard Nimoy.”

Description of the following video:

[Video: IUPUI Presents bug appears.]

[Words appear: Jonathan R. Eller, Director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.]

Jonathan Eller speaks: I’m John Eller. I’m the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, here in the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. We just, this last summer, a year ago, moved into this very large space in Cavanaugh Hall. Where we’re able to set up more of the Bradbury Center’s archival functions, as well as sort of the beginning of its gallery functions here.

And also, the museum artifacts that we have here now, thanks to a generous gift of the Bradbury family and other benefactors. So, in this main area here, you’ll see on the far wall behind me, the stories that Ray Bradbury and his people in Hollywood turned into motion pictures over the years.

Beginning down the wall with Moby Dick, which a lot of people don’t realize, Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the Warner Brothers 1956 production of “Moby Dick.” That opened a lot of doors in Hollywood for him, and you see other films here going along the wall that he was associated with.

[Video: A shot of a poster for “Martian Chronicles.”]

Eller speaks: Filing cabinets in this area are the heart of the Bradbury Archive. The ten that you see against that wall were the ten that were in his garage, in his Los Angeles home for a half a century or more. The other cabinets, the low-profile cabinets you see here further out in the room were in his second home in Palm Springs for many years.

He would work in both places, sometimes he’d go out to Palm Springs with his work as well. And he would work there. Primarily though, he worked in his own home office which you’ll see here in a few minutes.

[Video: shots of just some of Bradbury’s awards]

Eller speaks: This is an Emmy he was awarded for his screenplay for the animated feature film version of his novel, “The Halloween Tree.”

We also have it flanked here by two retro Hugo Awards, that he was awarded posthumously just last year. I had the honor of accepting those awards on behalf of the family.

[Video: A shot of a picture of Bradbury with fellow author Kurt Vonnegut]

Eller speaks: What we have here are our working copies and reference copies of all the editions of Ray Bradbury’s works, and many of the printings of his works as well internal to the various editions, so that we can keep track of all the changes and the revisions to his work that sometimes carried through.

And also, a lot of the art is as well-known as the stories, because he had many artists that worked with him throughout his career. Many artists wanted to work with Ray Bradbury stories and books, because they had such a free range of fantasy to be working with in his subjects.

[Video: Shots of figures in Bradbury’s office recreation area]

Eller speaks: This is a complete recreation of Ray Bradbury’s home office, where he worked fairly from the late 1950’s on through till very late in life, in the basement of his home in Los Angeles. These are his book cases, these are his books. This is a recreation of the work bench along the long wall in his office, that we were just able to have fabricated for the Bradbury center office recreation.

This is a complete recreation of Ray Bradbury’s home office, where he worked fairly from the late 1950’s on through till very late in life, in the basement of his home in Los Angeles. These are his book cases, these are his books. This is a recreation of the work bench along the long wall in his office, that we were just able to have fabricated for the Bradbury center office recreation.

The mask on top of this bookcase is a representation of the character Moundshroud, from From Ray Bradbury’s very popular and timeless novel The Halloween Tree. This particular mask was probably used in concept work, during the making of the Hanna-Barbera animated film the The Halloween Tree in the early 1990s.

This is a character whom the Halloween trick or treaters finally realized, is really a manifestation of death, who comes out every Halloween. And is involved in the way we celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, and then the following day All Saints’ Day in many cultures around the world. For that particular animated film version, the voice of Moundshroud was done by the actor Leonard Nimoy.

We have here at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, a very large collection. Many of the things that played into his incredibly deep and broad life in American culture and American letters. We look forward to continuing to curate that here and hopefully, with your help, and the help of others, and our university, we’ll be here for a long time to come.

[Words appear: IUPUI Fulfilling the Promise,]

[End of transcript]

The mask is one of thousands of artifacts Eller and the School of Liberal Arts have stored and displayed in the center, which also curates a re-creation of Bradbury’s basement office that he maintained for decades in his Los Angeles home while creating masterworks like “Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Illustrated Man.” 

The Center opened in Cavanaugh a decade ago and has since become an October hub for annual Bradbury commemorations. After all, one of Bradbury’s best-known books remains “The October Country,” a collection of his most famous and eerie tales of the 1940s and 1950s. One of his mainstream multimedia successes was his Emmy Award-winning animated film “The Halloween Tree,” based on his 1972 novel. “The Halloween Tree” eventually won the Disneyland seal of approval when a commemorative jack-o-lantern tree display became an annual Disney enchantment in 2007. 

IUPUI pays tribute to Bradbury every October with exhibits on campus. This month, many of the center’s space-related artifacts will be on display in the new “Infinite Voyages: Ray Bradbury and the Space Age” exhibit in the Campus Center’s Cultural Arts Gallery. The show runs now through Nov. 2.

Jon Eller talks in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.
Eller talks near the complimentary director’s chair Bradbury received from Disney in honor of its 1983 film version of the Ray Bradbury classic “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” A stuffed black cat “rests” on the chair. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

From the moon to Mars, Bradbury was enthusiastic for space exploration, according to Eller. The Bradbury expert said 1930s sci-fi pulp magazines like Amazing Stories, Wonder Stories and Astounding had the future author often looking to the skies in wonderment. By the 1940s, his stories began to appear in the same magazines, and in many others as well. Many of Bradbury’s personal copies of these magazines are on display in the center. 

In the 1960s, Bradbury helped keep his fans interested in NASA’s developments.

“Ray Bradbury loved the Apollo missions and all of the manned space missions that followed,” said Eller, noting Bradbury’s collection of awards and mementos given to him by NASA. “He also got behind the space shuttle program; he worked to promote the program and knew a number of the key players and crews.”

NASA paid tribute to Bradbury shortly after the Curiosity rover landed on Mars in August 2012. The rover, which is still collecting data from the Martian surface, touched down at Gale Crater, just south of Mars’ equator. The site was renamed Bradbury Landing on Aug. 22 to coincide with what would have been the author’s 92nd birthday. Bradbury had died just months before, on June 5, but had lived long enough to see the launch of this landmark achievement in Martian exploration.

Bradbury’s classic 1950 novelized collection of short stories, “The Martian Chronicles,” will forever link the author to the Red Planet, and now the planet is linked to the legendary writer. Some of the “Martian” tales are eerily prophetic and carry much impact, according to Eller. 

“Curiosity has told us that Mars is a little bit like what Ray Bradbury always thought it would be,” he explained. “We have planetary dynamics in evidence. We have evidence of earlier times of water. All of these things that Ray Bradbury hoped for and dreamed of might have been there at one time.”

An award is displayed.
Ray Bradbury received numerous honors and awards for his support of the U.S. space program. This one is encased at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in Cavanaugh Hall.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

In 2016, Eller represented the Bradbury family at the Hugo Awards ceremony. It was a momentous occasion for Eller as Bradbury was given posthumous awards for his work that predated the Hugos, which honor the top works in science fiction and fantasy.

Eller earned the distinction to accept the award as he and Bradbury struck up a decades-spanning friendship after meeting when Eller was an English professor at his alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy, in the late 1980s. Bradbury was a guest speaker at a weeklong science fiction convention, and then-Major Eller was his host. Over time, Eller learned Bradbury’s “stories behind the stories,” eventually publishing three books on the author.

“Pretty much for the last 15 years of his life, I interviewed Bradbury in depth,” Eller said. “He was a great inspiration for people who loved to write, loved to read and loved to put their finger on the pulse of the human heart.”

Eller had been a fan of Bradbury’s since childhood.

“From the age of 10 or 12 on, I was reading Ray Bradbury,” Eller reflected. “The very first book I read was a wonderful collection of stories that he published in the early 1950s called ‘The Golden Apples of the Sun.’ That really pulled me in. In that collection were fantasy and realism and some of his award-winning tales from the 1940s.”

Eller was one of millions of children to get hooked on Bradbury’s storytelling, but few knew the author like he did.

“It was a happy accident that grew out of my childhood reading and love, never knowing I would meet the writer who taught me to love the books I read – and to read and value any book that would feed and nurture my imagination.” 

While the Martian stories ring with some prescience, “Fahrenheit 451” continues to inspire on Earth’s soil. Proponents for freedom of speech and anti-censorship still look to the classic dystopian tome. Through science fiction and terror tales, Bradbury’s words helped teach millions of eyes to read and millions of brains to think. 

“He was a great defender of the freedom of imagination,” Eller said. “He was always a protector of libraries and the precious gift of literacy.”

A pulp magazine from Ray Bradbury's youth
Pulp magazines like this one inspired a young Ray Bradbury.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
A globe of Mars
This globe of Mars is rare and was presented to Bradbury by NASA.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
One of Ray Bradbury's writing desks
Multiple American science fiction American classics were written at this desk, which Bradbury used in the 1940s and ’50s.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
An 'Empire Strikes Back' script
Bradbury did some supervisory work on an incarnation of “The Empire Strikes Back” screenplay. This was one of the copies that passed through Bradbury’s office.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
Folders containing Bradbury's letters
Bradbury’s personal letters are organized by year in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
A tribute to 'Moby Dick'
This section of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies pays tribute to Bradbury’s screenwriting for the 1956 film version of “Moby Dick.”Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
Bradbury's last desk
Bradbury’s last work desk features how he kept it during the last years of his life.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
A desk drawer contains numerous items of Bradbury's
An opened desk drawer reveals ticket stubs, numerous pens and the butt of a cigar smoked by George Burns.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications
An autographed picture from astronaut Michael Collins
This autographed photo from astronaut Michael Collins is just one of many NASA-related items given to Bradbury from the 1960s until just before his death in 2012.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications


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Tim Brouk

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