Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury gone

My hometown newspaper, the Star Tribune just posted a story about the passing of science fiction author Ray Bradbury. I think it's safe to say that he was both an icon of the genre. And yet, he also did a great deal of mainstream work that continues to inspire. His writing extended into film and television, either through direct development of his work or the incredible influence he had on writers, filmmakers, and even scientists and social scientists. From the STrib:
His writings ranged from horror and mystery to humor and sympathetic stories about the Irish, blacks and Mexican-Americans. Bradbury also scripted John Huston's 1956 film version of "Moby Dick" and wrote for "The Twilight Zone" and other television programs, including "The Ray Bradbury Theater," for which he adapted dozens of his works.

"What I have always been is a hybrid author," Bradbury said in 2009. "I am completely in love with movies, and I am completely in love with theater, and I am completely in love with libraries."
His most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, was perhaps the best example of his work that straddled both sci-fi and true-to-life commentary.
"The Martian Chronicles" prophesized the banning of books, especially works of fantasy, a theme Bradbury would take on fully in the 1953 release, "Fahrenheit 451." Inspired by the Cold War, the rise of television and the author's passion for libraries, it was an apocalyptic narrative of nuclear war abroad and empty pleasure at home, with firefighters assigned to burn books instead of putting blazes out (451 degrees Fahrenheit, Bradbury had been told, was the temperature at which texts went up in flames).."

It was Bradbury's only true science-fiction work, according to the author, who said all his other works should have been classified as fantasy. "It was a book based on real facts and also on my hatred for people who burn books," he told The Associated Press in 2002.
One of his shortstories for which I'll always remember him is A Sound of Thunder, in which Bradbury used the concept of the "butterfly effect" to illustrate how small changes can have enormous repercussions in the future. A concept that's been turned into not only a well traveled sci-fi trope for time travel plots, but helped us understand how important it is to be more reflective of our impact in everything from the environment to how we treat one another.

Here's to a man who, at 91, was still writing, still active, and still making an impact in the world of sci-fi.

Have a favorite Bradbury story?


  1. He's not gone, he moved into legend many years ago.

  2. "The Rocket", also from R is for Rocket—the first and greatest of the Great Books of my childhood.

    (With The Halloween Tree as my pick from the novels.)