Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ray Bradbury Dead at 91

Although he often looked toward the future in his fiction, author Ray Bradbury is now part of the past. He died last night at age 91.

As is probably the case for most people noticing this post, I have read Bradbury’s most famous works of fiction--The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). Surprisingly, though, I was less good about tackling his mystery novels--Death Is a Lonely Business (1985), A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), and Let’s All Kill Constance (2002)--but only because I was distracted at the time by other, newer wordsmiths.

I enjoyed a great deal of science fiction in my youth (the same stage of life when Bradbury himself discovered the genre), before I turned mostly to crime fiction in my college years. And even then, I could see that Bradbury was another rung up from most of his contemporaries in the genre. As the Los Angeles Times explains in an obituary:
Bradbury has frequently been credited with elevating the often maligned reputation of science fiction. Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature.

“The only figure comparable to mention would be [Robert A.] Heinlein and then later [Arthur C.] Clarke,” said Gregory Benford, a UC Irvine physics professor and Nebula Award-winning science fiction writer. “But Bradbury, in the ’40s and ’50s, became the name brand.”
Bradbury inspired devotion and sometimes remarkable passions in his followers, and his longevity and great popularity as an author contributed to his influence over the genre. His presence in our world, our time, our space will most certainly be missed.

January contributor Jim Napier has this to add: “Just heard that science-fiction author Ray Bradbury died. The passing of a giant. The best SF -- and Bradbury’s books were clearly at the very top of that list -- go way beyond entertainment, to invite readers to imagine the consequences of possibilities before they become actualities. He painted pictures of alternative universes, and prompted us to consider the implications of emerging, or even merely possible, ways of living, giving us the opportunity to say “no” or to embrace such changes. With Bradbury, it was never just about stunning SFX; it was always about substance. Contemporary filmmakers would do well to keep that in mind.”

READ MORE: “Ray Bradbury: Twitter Pays Tribute to SF Writer,” by Hannah Freeman (The Guardian); “Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203,” by Sam Weller (The Paris Review).

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home