The indelible link between short storytelling and sci-fi would bear fruit in the electronic media age, with The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Star Trek and so on and so forth. The best sci-fi TV shows worked on the principle already established back in the pulp days.
Echoes of this formula can still be found in The X-Files and the better Fringe standalones. It's almost as brevity bolsters believability-- the longer you draw out the story, the more spaceships and tentacles that enter the picture, the more vulnerable that suspension of disbelief becomes.
And then there's Ray Bradbury. A lot of hard sci-fi fans bristle when he's named as a "sci-fi great," but that just goes to show how shallow, out of touch and self-marginalizing that microculture can be. Bradbury was the Poet Laureate of sci-fi, a master of the Space Age tone poem.
His stories were often sentimental, moralistic, scientifically illiterate and indelibly American, but they always had the feeling of a late night campfire or a tale told on a balmy evening on the veranda, watching the fireflies rise from the purple sunset and dance among the stars.
My first memory of Bradbury's work was The Illustrated Man, one of the last of a wave of 60s anthology format film. Apparently a box office bust, the film blew the top of my young head off. I can see its shortcomings now, but I can still feel the old wallop. With all of that stuff-- I still have a burning nostalgia for science fiction written by adults, not superannuated teenagers.
I have a burning nostalgia for the circuit that sustained writers like Bradbury- so many of his anthologies--Illustrated Man, Golden Apples of the Sun, Machineries of Joy, I Sing the Body Electric, and of course The Martian Chronicles-- that kept me company on long, boring commutes were collected stories Bradbury published in magazines. Not only sci-fi magazines but also mainstream ones, since he had such a tremendous appeal outside the bug-eyed monster ghetto.
A book-loving heretic to the end, Bradbury expressed his contempt for modern technology when his prophetic Fahrenheit 451 was adapted for an eBook:
We have too much of a lot of things. And not enough of the quiet, reflective, dreaming hours that gave us giants like Ray Bradbury. With an empty, mindless, overheated media that makes stars of all of the narcissistic hustlers out there, selling themselves as product and recycling--or pirating-- all of their "ideas" from someone else, it may be some time before we see another.
As late as last year, Mr Bradbury remained firmly opposed to the idea of his book appearing as a digital title.
"I was approached three times during the last year by internet companies wanting to put my books on an electronic reading device," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2010.
"I said to Yahoo: 'Prick up your ears and go to hell.'"
He also complained about the spread of modern technology.
"We have too many cellphones. We've got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now," he said.
But people like Ray Bradbury will still be read and treasured long after the hustlers and the pirates are dead and buried.