LOS ANGELES -- Though slowed by age, Ray Bradbury still speaks with exuberance. Hobbled by a stroke in 1999, he now dictates his work over the phone to his daughter in Arizona, who records and transcribes it before faxing edits back. Mr. Bradbury works in an overstuffed leather chair in a den lined by shelves of VHS tapes of classic movies and history texts. The room is crowded with models of dinosaurs, rocket ships and Jules Verne's Nautilus submarine, his own dusty Emmy, a friend's tarnished Oscar and a 52-inch flat-screen television not unlike the ones he presaged in "Fahrenheit 451."
"I'm surrounded by my metaphors," said Mr. Bradbury, who acknowledges that the science in his books is often faulty and serves only as a vehicle for his fiction. He'll provide the inspiration, he says, and let the scientists worry about the particulars.
"The arts and sciences are connected," he continued. "Scientists have to have a metaphor. All scientists start with imagination."
As Ray Bradbury turns 87 on Aug. 22, the celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer is taking something of a victory lap, partly the result of mining his extensive files for rare and unfinished work. He will publish several long-forgotten works this summer, including experimental drafts and his earliest writings.
In September William Morrow will release "Now and Forever," a collection of the never-released novellas "Leviathan 99" and "Somewhere a Band Is Playing," with an expanded, limited edition of the latter to be simultaneously released by an independent publisher. This caps a year in which Mr. Bradbury was awarded a special distinguished-career citation from the Pulitzer Board.
"Leviathan 99," which Mr. Bradbury describes as "Moby-Dick" in outer space," was started in the '50s, and though he has revisited it sporadically over the years, it was originally intended as a radio script for Norman Corwin. It follows Ishmael Jones as he accompanies a blind, maniacal captain of the "largest interstellar spaceship ever built," tracking a great white comet.
Mr. Bradbury intended "Somewhere a Band Is Playing" as a starring vehicle for Katharine Hepburn when he began it in 1956. In this novella, a reporter hops off a moving train, landing in a bucolic town where no one dies or grows old and where no children live.
"Somewhere a Band Is Playing" is vintage Bradbury, said Barry Hoffman, publisher of Gauntlet Press, which is releasing the novella accompanied by early drafts and fragments of a teleplay and screenplay.
"This is something that Bradbury's been working on for more than 50 years, so we have a lot of variations that he played around with," Mr. Hoffman said. Some versions are "more pessimistic" than the final draft, he said.
This summer Gauntlet released "Match to Flame: The Fictional Paths to 'Fahrenheit 451,' " containing the stories, drafts and correspondence that culminated in what is perhaps Mr. Bradbury's most enduring work.
Mr. Bradbury says he started "Somewhere a Band Is Playing" after seeing Ms. Hepburn in "Summertime." "Over the years I kept working on it because I knew Katharine Hepburn, and I hoped I could finish it and give it to her, so that she could make a film of it," he said during a recent interview in his home in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. "But the years just went by."
Mr. Bradbury's literary journey started with the fanzine Futuria Fantasia, which he self-published when he was 18 in 1939. The fanzine's four issues were anthologized and reissued last month by Graham Press. The fanzine was bankrolled by Forrest J. Ackerman, one of science fiction's greatest fans and the man said to have coined the term sci-fi; only 100 original copies were printed. They contain early work by such future science fiction luminaries as Hannes Bok and Robert Heinlein.
Mr. Bradbury concedes that his own stories in Futuria Fantasia -- many of them published under pseudonyms, to make his stable of writers seem bigger -- were crude. "I was still years away from writing my first good short story," he said, "but I could see my future. I knew where I wanted to go."
Mr. Bradbury's authorized biographer, Sam Weller, said: "Futuria Fantasia has always been out of everybody's grasp. Except for the very well-off fans who could afford to track copies down through collection or auction houses, nobody has ever seen them, let alone owned them."
Though Mr. Bradbury's critics have bristled at his comments that "Fahrenheit 451" was not a novel about censorship -- a statement that the paper trail in "Match to Flame" seems to disprove -- or that "The Martian Chronicles," one of the most widely read science fiction novels, is not science fiction because of its fudged science, they agree on his contribution to the genre.
Mr. Bradbury's special Pulitzer citation was "an enormous nod of respect from the mainstream media," said Lou Anders, editorial director of the science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr.
But Mr. Bradbury's early works should be understood in their historical context, Mr. Anders said, not as representative of where the field is today. "I hope that anyone who comes to science fiction and fantasy cold -- readers for whom 'The Illustrated Man' or 'I Sing the Body Electric' are their doorway in -- will be inspired to look beyond these classic works to the new masters."
Mr. Bradbury, who stopped the regular reading of science fiction decades ago, is comfortable in his outsider status, if a bit cantankerous. "I don't need to be vindicated, and I don't want attention," he said. "I never question. I never ask anyone else's opinion. They don't count."