As I mentioned a few days ago when writing about Delta and the Bannermen, variations of the name “Ray” are pretty common in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Is it an ode to the ubiquitous Death Rays, Shrink Rays, and Freeze Rays that once populated the genres? Who knows. Anyway, I put together a list of who I consider to be the top six Rays.
In Rumiko Takahashi’s classic manga and anime series Urusei Yatsura, a story about an oni alien named Lum who imposes her love on lecherous Earthling Ataru, a rival for Lum’s affections eventually appears from her homeworld. Devastatingly handsome with the power to charm any woman except Lum, Rei nonetheless suffers from an inability to speak more than a few words at a time. Maybe a less attractive trait is his tendency to turn into a twenty foot tall rampaging alien tiger whenever he gets too emotional.
5. Ray Wise
You’d be wise to get acquainted with actor Ray Wise. As Commissioner Gordon, he was one of the few bright spots on the animated adaptation of The Killing Joke a couple years ago, he had a major role in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Who Watches the Watchers”, and he had roles in RoboCop and the 1982 Cat People. But the best reason to get to know this Ray is for his performance as Leland Palmer, father of Laura, on Twin Peaks. Wise’s talents helped make Leland a character capable of scaling impressive heights of comedy and horror.
I know what you’re thinking; “But who are her parents?!” Relax, this plucky Rey will make you forget all about that. Well, maybe not, but she’s a little Rey of sunshine away, inverting Luke’s story about wanting to get away from his home to fight the Empire, Rey just wants a happy normal life away from it all. Lucky for us, this beautiful young woman’s prevailed upon to repair the Millennium Falcon and wield a lightsabre, absorbing the powers of Han, Luke, and Leia into a single Star Wars juggernaut!
3. Ray Stantz
I know what you’re thinking; “He took out a second mortgage on the house he was born in!” But it was for bigger and better things, believe me, as he became the heart of the Ghostbusters. Dan Aykroyd’s enthusiastic performance made Ray’s glee at obtaining a fire house not up to building codes or a hearse that barely runs irresistibly infectious.
2. Rei Ayanami
Don’t ask about this Rei’s parentage; suffice to say, it’s complicated. Voiced by the great Megumi Hayashibara, Rei’s a central part of the impact Neon Genesis Evangelion still holds on manga and anime. Over twenty years after the series debuted, Otakus are still either dreaming about Rei or Rei knock-offs like Rem from Re:Zero. None of the Rei imitators match her for complexity, though, or the fascinatingly weird depths of psychological disturbance the series takes her to. This was back when the best anime series would challenge their fans.
1. Ray Bradbury
The natural number one on this list, Bradbury crafted classics in both Science Fiction and Fantasy. From the insightful dystopia of Fahrenheit 451 to the beautiful impression of childhood nightmares in Something Wicked this Way Comes. But that just scratches the surface of his career of making classics that include The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles. He also wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s adaptation of Moby Dick and co-designed Horton Plaza (based on his essay “The Aesthetics of Lostness”), a shopping mall in downtown San Diego. Which I’d advise you to check out if you haven’t already before its owner, Westfield, finishes driving into the ground.