The science fiction and fantasy world lost a true visionary today with the death of Ray Bradbury. The man was a true poet who penned some eloquently profound stories and novels. Among his greatest works are Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, I Sing The Body Electric, R Is For Rocket and The Illustrated Man. His short stories are well regarded by critics and readers and were adapted for comic books (notably EC Comics), TV shows like The Twilight Zone, plays and films. They include “the Flying Machine”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, “The Fog Horn” (which inspired The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), and “A Sound Of Thunder”. The latter of which popularized the time travel paradox concept of the Butterfly Effect.
Bradbury also wrote the screenplays for John Huston’s film adaptation of Moby Dick, the film adaptation for Something Wicked This Way Comes, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Ray Bradbury Theater (which he hosted), and more. Ray Bradbury won an Emmy award for his script The Halloween Tree, which was based on his book of the same name. He also won numerous awards and citations including a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Born in Illinois in 1920, Ray Bradbury was a dreamer who inspired many to dream and look up to the stars and wonder at the beauty of our universe. Even at an early age, his writing gift was evident and he soon began publishing numerous short stories. While many of his works are lyrical and inspiring, he also didn’t shy away from exploring humanity’s darker side. Many stories served as warnings about ourselves, while offering a glimmer of hope.
This is probably best presented with his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451, which is a personal favorite, in the futuristic society of that novel, books and all literature are outlawed as the populace is deliberately kept ignorant by the government to better control them. Bradbury played with many ironies in his body of work, and Fahrenheit 451 wasn’t an exception. In the book, firemen aren’t used to put out fires, rather they create fires as they storm into the homes of suspected book owners and set libraries on fire. While the majority of the book is a bleak look at how shallow and empty we can be, Bradbury provided a main character (the fireman Guy Montag) who slowly comes to his senses about the horror of book burning. Montage redeems himself (and society at large) by becoming part of an underground movement to bring literature back to society in order to save it.
Bradbury’s contributions to the world of literature and science fiction and fantasy cannot be measured. While Ray Bradbury may no longer be with us, his spirit is now rightfully in the heavens above us and his works will continue to inspire many for as long as there are dreamers and visionaries.