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acknowledged these days. If Swan, with its grotesque and scarcely veiled portraits of William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davis, inspired Welles’s Citizen Kane (1940), then Ape and Essence, with its savage vision of the post­ apocalypse, was the ‘predecessor of science fiction films on the environ­ mental destruction of Los Angeles and human devolution’ - a list that includes Planet o f the Apes, Omega Man, and Blade Runner.48 The early science fiction of Ray Bradbury, meanwhile, showed a strong noir influence derived from his sci-fi mentor, Leigh Brackett, who styled herself after Chandler and Hammett. Bradbury’s uniqueness was that he was a son of the Folks turned ‘poet of the pulps’. A Depression emigré from Wisconsin, he attended L.A. High (but never learned to drive) and became an enthusiastic member of West’s dreaded fanocracy: I was one of Them: the Strange Ones. The Funny People. The Odd Tribes of autograph-collectors and photographers. The Ones who waited through long days and nights, who used other people’s dreams for their lives.49 Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles (1950) revolves around contradictions between the Turnerian, ‘westering’ quest for new frontiers and poignant nostalgia for small-town America. In a sense, Bradbury took the angst of the dislocated Midwesterner in Los Angeles and projected it as extra-terrestrial destiny. As David Mogen has pointed out, Bradbury’s Mars is really Los Angeles’s metaphysical double: ‘a product of fantasies imposed upon it . . . magical promises and disorienting malevolence’.50 But the most interesting transit across Los Angeles’s literary scene in the 1940s was probably the brief appearance of Black noir. Los Angeles was a particularly cruel mirage for Black writers. At first sight to the young Langston Hughes, visiting the city in the Olympic year of 1932, ‘Los Angeles seemed more a miracle than a city, a place where oranges sold for one cent a dozen, ordinary Black folks lived in huge houses with “miles of yards”, and prosperity seemed to reign in spite of the Depression.’5 1 Later, in 1939, when Hughes attempted to work within the studio system, he discovered that the only available role for a Black writer was furnishing demeaning dialogue for cotton-field parodies of Black life. After a humiliating experience with the film Way Down South, he declared that ‘so far as Negroes are concerned, [Hollywood] might just as well be controlled by Hitler’.5 2

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