Lin Carter created the Gandalf Award to recognize lifetime achievement in fantasy. As with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author, which was founded in the previous year, the Gandalf Awards were administered along with the Hugo Award and presented at Worldcon. The Gandalf Award was given out from 1974, when it was won by J.R.R. Tolkien, through 1981, when it went to C. L. Moore. For two years, in addition to a Grand Master Award, a Best Novel Gandalf was also presented. In 1980, the awards were presented at Noreascon II in Boston.
Several years ago, I received a phone call from Ray Bradbury. When I hung up the phone, I turned to my daughter, who was in elementary school, and said, “Remember this call. You’ll be studying the author I just spoke to in school.” Several years later, I was at a parent conference for my daughter and the teacher caught me looking at a poster for Fahrenheit 451. The class had read Bradbury’s story “The Veldt” earlier in the school year and the teacher said, “I don’t want to accuse your daughter of making things up, but she says Ray Bradbury has called your house.” I confirmed the call to the teacher, but inside I was jubilant, my daughter had listened to me.
Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 and died on June 5, 2012.
Bradbury never received the Hugo Award, although he received four Retro Hugo Awards for his novel Fahrenheit 451, his fanzine Futuria Fantasia, and twice for Best Fan Writer. He was nominated for a single Hugo. He was never nominated for a Nebula Award. He won the Bram Stoker Award for his collection One More for the Road. Fahrenheit 451 also won a Prometheus Award and a Geffen Award. Bradbury won three Seiun Awards for Best Foreign Short Story. He won the coveted Balrog Award for Poetry in 1979. In 1966, he was awarded a Forry Award by LASFS. He received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1977 and was named a Grand Master of Fantasy with a Gandalf Award in 1980, the final year the award was in existence. Bradbury was the Guest of Honor at ConFederation, the 44th Worldcon, held in Atlanta in 1986. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bram Stoker Awards in 1989, the same year he was named a Grand Master by SFWA. World Horror Con named him a Grandmaster in 2001 and the Rhysling Awards did so in 2008. He was given an Eaton Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. Bradbury was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999 and the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Downwind from Gettysburg” was originally published in Bradbury’s collection I Sing the Body Electric in 1969 and was reprinted in 2003 in Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. When the latter was reprinted in two volumes, the story appeared in Ray Bradbury Stories Volume 2. Although it hasn’t often been reprinted in English, the story has been translated, usually as part of I Sing the Body Electric, into French, Portuguese, German, and Italian.
In 1964, Walt Disney created an animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln to appear at the Illinois Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. The following year the exhibit moved to Disneyland, where the Lincoln show continued to run, on and off through the present, although another version, featuring versions of all the Presidents, runs at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. In 1969 Ray Bradbury published “Downwind from Gettysburg,” which featured a similar animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln.
Bradbury’s version, however, sits in a replica of Ford’s Theatre and the story opens with someone coming into the theatre and shooting the animatronic figure in the head. Although Bayes, the proprietor of the exhibit, knows that he must call the designer, Phipps, to have the robot fixed, he doesn’t want to make the call, instead tracking down the “assassin” who shot the robot. The man, who is unemployed and whose life seems to be a shambles, explains that his name is Norman Llewellyn Booth. Booth has the feeling that fate has conspired to make him recreate the heinous crime committed by his namesake, although there is no direct connection between the two Booths. Instead, Booth figured the nature of his crime would bring him a notoriety he was otherwise lacking.
Once many years ago, Ray Bradbury decided the best way to become a good short story writer was to write a whole bunch of them. So he committed to writing a short story every week for a year. He also decided the only way to get published was to submit short stories, so he submitted a story once a week for a year too.
It’s a simple formula many beginning writers just don’t get — you got to put in the effort, and you have to send your stuff out there. As Bradbury explained in this speech, practice will help you, and it is impossible to write 52 bad stories in a row.
So let me introduce you to Write1Sub1, an online group where we encourage each other to write and submit a short story every week. They don’t have to be the same short story, because you probably want to let a story sit for a while before going back and editing it with a fresh set of eyes.
Many of us (including yours truly) are more novelists at heart, so if you don’t think you can face a weekly challenge, you can write and submit once a month. When I did this challenge back in 2014, I tried the weekly challenge. I burned out after four months, but got 16 stories written, more short stories than all previous years combined. Many got published in magazines and anthologies and the rest assembled into a collection I indie published. It really does work!
Check us out on our Facebook page. It costs nothing but your time, commitment, and perhaps your immortal soul. Keep on writing!