Celebs and sci-fi lovers fête the late Venetian master of ‘The Martian Chronicles’ & ‘Fahrenheit 451’ with national read-a-thon & centennial birthday Zoom

By Julia Escobar

Ray Bradbury in 1959 in a press shot for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”; Alley Mills Bean rehearses for the read-a-thon on the Venice Canals

In celebration of what would have been landmark sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury’s 100th birthday on Aug. 22, The Library of Congress, the Los Angeles Public Library and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers have banded together to host the first virtual “read-a-thon” dedicated to Bradbury’s dystopian classic “Fahrenheit 451.” Venice actress and longtime supporter of The Friends of the Venice Library, Alley Mills Bean (of “The Wonder Years” and widow of the late entertainer Orson Bean) is among the celebrity readers.

Starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday you can watch pre-recorded readings and introductions by Mills Bean, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom, “Star Trek” legend William Shatner (aka Captain Kirk), fantasy author Neil Gaiman and many others as their voices merge into one continuous reading of the entire novel, “creating four hours of thought-provoking entertainment” say organizers in a statement on the read-a-thon.

Some readers may even be reading on site in historic rooms of the Los Angeles Public Library, the Library of Congress and the former Carnegie Library building in Waukegan, Illinois, where Bradbury spent much of his childhood lost in books. The backdrops will bring Bradbury’s classic novel to life through a 21st century, COVID-friendly lens.

Many may not be aware that Bradbury’s life as a writer began in Venice. In 1942, he moved to a small house at 670 Venice Boulevard where he sat in a one-car garage and wrote short stories like “The Lake” and “The Wind” as well as the famed “Martian Chronicles.” From “The Fog Horn” inspired by the shattered remains of the Venice Pier roller coaster to the decaying Venice Canals that set the scene for “Death Is a Lonely Business,” Venice had a large influence on the stories he told.

He even rode his Raleigh bike through the Venice Canals, which is where Mills Bean will be reading her portion of “Fahrenheit 451” for the nationwide read-a-thon.

The Friends of the Venice Library (FoVL) will also be hosting a birthday Zoom event on Saturday, following the start of the marathon reading. From 2 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 22, The Friends will honor Bradbury’s time in Venice with a special showing of his ​“I Sing the Body Electric” Twilight Zone episode combined with FoVL’s annual meeting and a Los Angeles Public Library zine workshop. All are welcome to join!

The national Ray Bradbury Read-A-Thon starts at 1:30 p.m. Pacific/4:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday (Aug.22). Watch at facebook.com/FriendsofVeniceLibrary. A recording will be available to watch until Sept. 5 at raybradburyreadathon.com.

To learn more about Bradbury’s life in Venice and join in on The Friends of the Venice Library Zoom, visit friendsofvenicelibrary.weebly.com/bradbury-8222020.html.

More info is available at friendsofvenicelibrary.weebly.com/bradbury-readathon.html.