Autograph Poem Manuscript of Why Viking Lander? Why the Planet Mars?
1976. 11 leaves, 6 by 8 inches, written on one side only. An original poem handwritten in a burst of inspiration in late June 1976, as the Viking spacecraft was entering Martian orbit. The poem was published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, June 27, 1976, and in the September Bradbury special issue of Xenophile (#26). The published text in the Times is different in many small ways and significantly at the end, omitting the entire last page of the manuscript.
The history of the poem is given in notes written by Bradbury in the margins and between the lines on the first page: "Written in Disney projection room! R.B." Followed by, "Ray Bradbury, written on Thursday, June __, 1976. 10:30-10:37 A.M. then to Times at 12:30 that morn." This note seems to have been written after the fact as Bradbury was unsure of the exact date which, if it was a Thursday, was probably either June 17 or 24. The final note reads, "And now for Bruce Francis with love from R.B. Oct. 6, 1978." Francis was a friend of Bradbury's and a fellow author.
With the original envelope, addressed by Bradbury in two colors of ink, both of which are used in the manuscript.
Autograph manuscripts from Bradbury are scarce. ISBN: 281AIB1043231.