I confess — I haven’t read Bradbury in years. But the Martian Chronicles and, of course, Farenheit 451 were mileposts in my growing up as a reader. Lots more besides, but those are the books that rise in memory like pillars along a road that led to the thought that making worlds — and ideas — in words could be such a grand craft.
Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.
(This is the cover from at least one of the editions I’ve owned; it’s the one I like best)
If you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have said he’d died years ago.
I never read as much of his stuff as I should have, but I liked what I did read.
It always amazed me how the different interpretation of The Martian Chronicles covers inspired wild and fascinating interpretations. And how it fiercely resists getting made into a decent movie or television presentations. I consider this a positive. Bradbury was a imagineer but he also inspired us to imagine in our own ways. Another light in the sky has gone dark.
very few have ever done it as well as he did. just those two alone would provide a legacy worth having. I know times have changed & I am no longer the wide-eyed nerd I was but I just don’t find contemporary writers that can equal the giants who have left or are leaving
The first adult book I ever read was The Martian Chronicles. In spanish translation. I was six at the time. Can anyone say “a gateway to a life-long obsession?” I thought you could.
always sad to see us lose someone who opened minds instead of closed them
The Veldt creeped me out when I first read it as a kid.
I also remember buying Fahrenheit 451 a text based game for Vic20 or Commodore64. It was on 10-12 8 inch floppy disks (if under 35 use google images). Always crashed when I encountered the robotic dogs (it took some creative licensing with the story). I don’t think I was ever able to finish the game but loved it nonetheless.
Oh, damn, this makes me sad. A bit of a crank, but a great writer, and I think someone with a deep love and understanding of human nature, and a determination to preserve the best parts of it in his work. I’ll miss him.
I very much liked Bradbury’s Twilight Zone episode, “I Sing the Body Electric,” even though the Wikipedia tells me that it was one of the most poorly received by the viewers.
And I very much like that Bradbury was a champion of reading and of libraries, “the people’s university.” From the NYT obit,
And the image of the people at the end of Farenheit 451, who have become the memory and soul of books remains a hauntingly beautiful metaphor for one of the great things that we as humans do: tell each other stories.
The Wiki also says this about Bradbury:
Rest in peace, and thanks.
read Dandelion Wine for the first time a few years ago, too late in life I think. I can see how a younger person could be affected. this doesn’t mean I didn’e enjoy the book; I don’t think it was nostalgic, meaning obliviously syrupy about the past. I think the Portuguese have an excellent word to describe it: saudade.
One of my favorite authors, he made you think about what could be – both positive and negative. I just always loved the way he wrote.
That was the same edition of MC I first read, inherited from the parents! What great cover, and I got a kick out of the “95c” price tag on the spine too.
I think he wrote childhood really well too, and I appreciated Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked probably more than I did 451.
Old Dan and Little Ann
I read “Dandelion Wine” in high school and really enjoyed it. I think I then read if for about five summers in a row. I will be sure to read it again before this summer is done.
Turned (?) wingnutty later in life, but he did inspire a great musical tribute.
He got weirdly conservative in the last few years, but I never could hold it against him, because he wrote Something Wicked and Dandelion Wine and There Shall Come Soft Rains and The Fog Horn and Kaleidoscope and The Homecoming, and he was the first author I really, really cared about, and everything he wrote felt personal, no matter what. So he gets my Awesome Forever badge.
@Scott S.: I think he just got crochety. He was 91 when he died after all. My grandfather is 92 and he’s pretty much the same way.
Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of my all-time faves. Just love everything about that book.
I get very annoyed with people who don’t seem to understand that “Way In the Middle of the Air” is about the Jim Crow South. It’s been deleted from post-2001 editions of the book. Idiots.
I’m still very irritated that the downtown library has Richard Riordan’s name on it and not Bradbury’s. Riordan donated more money, though, and money talks.
Are you supposed to be sad when someone you thought was already dead, dies? It’s a bit conflicting.
He also was essentially completely deaf for the last 15 years or so. Combine that with being nearly blind and you tend to lose track of the world.
Fahrenheit 451 was the first of his books I read and it helped make me an SF reader and fan. RIP, Mr. Bradbury.
Really?! I can’t believe that they cant see that story is a biting condemnation of racism. Idiots is right.
@Mnemosyne: Well, of course they understand it’s about racism. Why do you think it’s been disappeared from later editions?
I read much of his stuff in high school. I wasn’t terribly moved by most of it. But I really loved Dandelion Wine. I should probably go back and read the big 2. I confess that I thought he was already dead too ….
He was my favorite writer, and probably always will be. I would not be the writer nor the person I am today without him. My favorites are Something Wicked This Way Comes and the short story “The Lake,” but everything he wrote was rich and wonderful and full of those things we lose when we grow up and become weighted down so much by living that we forget what it means to dream. He never really grew up.
Goodbye, Ray, you will be missed.
In recent decades he’s been rather famous for his bleak outlook and his carping on various issues (his complaints about the title of Fahrenheit 9/11, for example), but he was a hugely influential writer and popularizer of thoughtful science fiction.
There’s a bookstore in Glendale he sort of sponsored – he signed books and CDs for them to sell, and they hosted his birthday party every year. Last year I went to the bookstore and just by chance I’d missed the celebration, and him, by an hour; they gave me a leftover piece of the giant birthday cake they’d had for the celebration. I’ll have to stop by at some point and pay my respects.
@Mnemosyne: Good heavens, I’d be cranky, too.
A wonderful writer who really loved words, you could tell. A poet, really.
@Warren Terra: It’s always fascinating to me how a famous person also becomes a cultural landmark where they reside. Bradbury made just as much an impact on local California as he did the world.
@Brachiator: I’m sad to say that the edition of I Sing the Body Electric that my parents had (in their extensive SF collection) had this cover, so I turned to Bradbury much later than I should have.
Bradbury is also the second famous person from Waukegan, Illinois (Jack Benny was the first).
I recently re-read Fahrenheit 451 because I was recommending it to a young person and wanted to be sure it was as good as I remembered it to be. It was better.
The wall to wall screens with “stories” going on them all the time, and everyone supposed to be talking about what the people in the stories are doing, makes me think of reality shows on big screen tv. When I read the book first in HS I never thought that portion would be prescient.
Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom
Oh, this one hurts. He was almost our last link to the Golden Age of Science Fiction. RIP.
I have to admit that I thought of him as an important writer whom I didn’t much like. Sorry, but I never “got” him, and though I read a number of the books, just never “cottoned” to his approach. Asimov, Heinlein, yes, in the most part, but Bradbury, not so much.
Didn’t dislike him, just didn’t “have” to read his next book (or all of his old ones, either). But then, I have my favorites among today’s writers and ignore the rest, so why not him?
I know your son is about the same age as mine… You haven’t been taking advantage of introducing-to-the-‘classics’-so-you-can-re-read-them? I’m surprised..
He was one of the reasons I grew up reading books under my bedsheets at night with a flashlight.
I always enjoyed one of his poems in I Sing the Body Electric named Christus Apollo. Just beautifully written.
I am much too amused that FYWP is showing me ads for Lenscrafters.
I got to hear him speak at Worldcon in LA a few years ago, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. He was already quite decrepit; he was wheeled out and didn’t seem very lively, but then they got the microphone set and he launched into a tale of wandering off from a relative’s funeral when he was a boy, and finding over the hill a traveling circus, and more. Maybe it was the actual story of the inspiration for Something Wicked, but I knew at the time he could have just been spinning a yarn, and it really didn’t matter. Like all of his best work, it was real and it was true, whether or not it was a true story. It was absolutely magical.
A Sound of Thunder. ‘Nuff said.
If you have not yet read the collections R is for Rocket and The Illustrated Man, this would probably be a good time.
His writing was a big part of turning me into an avid reader when I was young. Met him in real life when he was younger and not yet old enough to be labeled as cranky due to his age.
When he was younger, he was a complete and total asshole. Didn’t make me love his writing any less. When I had the chance I would go hear him speak as he was quite fascinating and brilliant. But still a complete asshole. Seriously.
@protected static: There are a lot of classics. And he’s reading his own way through stuff. But you’re right. It’s long past time he got a copy of MC. And I may force him to let me read it to him…;)
When Bradbury wrote The Martian Chronicles, our best pictures of Mars were mottled orangeish blurs. The dark features seemed to come and go over time, and that was about all one could say, except that we knew the atmosphere was very thin and cold, that Olympus Mons was probably a whacking great volcano, and that icecaps waxed and waned yearly.
It was still possible that the dark features would turn out to be plains of plant growth that responded to a wave of darkening every spring.
The Onion’s article on this is pretty funny:
Following Ray Bradbury’s Death, Thousands Of People Buy Kindle Version Of Book About Demise Of Paper Books
This is why I will miss visionaries such as Mr. bradbury.
L.A.’s future is up in the air
By the way, fans of Bradbury and of radio drama should probably keep an eye on BBC Radio Four Extra; they have ten or fifteen hours of adaptations of Bradbury in their archives (including a series of thirteen half-hour adaptations of his short stories they comissioned a year or two ago), and it is likely that they will commemorate his passing by rebroadcasting (and web streaming) a bunch of their Bradbury adaptations.
Fahrenheit 451 is why really large screen tvs creep me out–as though we’re all supposed to become Mildred Montag after having been warned.
A very thoughtful obituary and tribute to Ray Bradbury at the Guardian. Again, I love this about how Bradbury’s love of reading transformed itself into a writer’s love of storytelling. Speak, memory:
And because I am currently reading a book that indulges my love of Los Angeles and Southern California, I note that Ray Bradbury’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6644 Hollywood Blvd.
Met him briefly many years ago myself, and I also found him to be quite an asshole in person.
Not nearly as much as Harlan Ellison (whose assholeness is legendary), but then not too many people could possibly be that bad.
I’m with Ed Drone above in that I recognize why Bradbury’s considered an iconic writer of the genre (of which I am a half-century-and-still-going fan), but I just never “got into” him myself, not even when I was quite young.
I’ve even gone back and re-read some of his stuff (as I’ve done with a number of authors from the long ago time) but no dice – I liked Bradbury’s work even less than before. Obviously, others here have a completely different take. De gustibus non est disputandum pertains here, I suppose.
And the fact that I found Bradbury personally disagreeable plays no part – I’ve always liked (most of) Ellison’s stuff.
Same for Bradbury’s hard-right wingnuttiness, which was in evidence long before near-blindness, deafness, or advanced age. Didn’t seem to square with his writings, I have to say.
Fahrenheit 451 — both the movie and the book — made a huge impression on me as a junior high student. Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury, and thank you for sharing your amazing visions with us.
What ‘hard-right wingnuttiness’ are you referring to? I mean, the guy was cranky and old-fashioned, sure, but I never saw him as a wingnut.
I was at a panel discussion for JPL’s Planetfest ‘81 (done for ABC’s Nightline) with Carl Sagan, Ray Bradbury, Bruce Murray, Gene Rodenbury, and Ted Koppel moderating (Koppel told a wicked funny joke about a “golden urinal” – punchline: “Hey Clarence! I think we found the guy that p!ssed in your saxaphone.”).
Bradbury told a story about how anti-nuclear activists outside the fence of a nuclear plant were hypocrites or Luddites or something as we would eventually solve all the problems associated with nuclear power and that anyway it was wrong to stall progress. My brother let out a loud and solitary “Boo!” in back of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Bradbury said some sort of comeback resulting in wild applause (including my own).
Bradbury then quipped, “I can tell by your reaction that you get it…and that the rest of you @ssholes don’t know what I’m talking about.”
I from then on referred to it as “the night Ray Bradbury called my brother an @sshole.” It’s almost three decades later and I know a little more about the lies told in defense of the nuclear power industry (remember the phrase “Power too cheap to meter”?).
I think I owe my brother an apology.
This doesn’t change how much I love(d) Ray, just that his optimism regarding technology could also be misplaced.
That’s the best part :-)
Good luck with that. In our house, that came to a somewhat undignified end a few years back when The Boy confessed to sneaking the books into his room and reading ahead because we weren’t reading them fast enough.
@Spaghetti Lee: Among other instances, he was sorely pissed at Moore for using ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’
He did write childhood, particularly male childhood, very well. The only one who comes close, nowadays, to that ability is Steven King.
Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn
His works were my Northern Star when I was younger.
Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed.
I read it 35 years ago, and have been steadily going native ever since.
Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn
I’d say your bro had it comin’. Unless Mr. Bradbury was speaking as a representative of the industry, that was just rude.
His dispute with Michael Moore wasn’t about how Dubya Was Great, it was more general-purpose crankiness about His Stuff, in this case “Title = Fahrenheit + Number”.
He was conservative in many ways, but I’m not sure he was particularly Conservative, politically.
When I started reading science fiction (voraciously) in the ’60s, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov were my two pillars. Asimov was more “hard” SF, Bradbury more lyrical and often bordering on fantasy or the whimsical. His story collection The October Country made me realize that one could write great science fiction and be a great writer as well.
And Bradbury figures in a personal note as well. My father traveled a lot, and there were times when I felt that he was remote and didn’t know a thing about me. And then one time he came home from a trip and gave me an autographed copy of The Illustrated Man. He had met Bradbury at some conference and made the effort to get the book and get it autographed for me. So (like most fathers, probably) he knew more about me than I thought.
Bradbury was most definitely a rightwinger politically.
Considered Reagan to be our greatest president, for one.
Considered Charlton Heston an “intellectual” for another.
Also said that W was “wonderful” and Clinton a “shithead” we should be glad was gone.
He was a full-on Tea Party supporter, too, but he was a wingnut long before that (from the 60s, it seems) letting it be known that he always voted Republican for president since Nixon in ’68 (except for Carter in ’76).
The wingnuts at Pajamas Media certainly consider him one of their own.
Like I said, shouldn’t change anyone’s enjoyment and appreciation of his work (which didn’t seem particularly “rightwing”, unlike, say, Heinlein’s). But Bradbury was a rightwinger much further back than his “dotage”.
A couple of anecdotes.
Just Googling around, I’m surprised how few people are couching this along the lines of “Chronicler of Mars Dies During Transit of Venus”.
He wrote a great little essay for WestWays Magazine in .. I want to say 2001? An ode to California, the title was something about “Califia, how I love thee”. I wish I could find it.
It included a photo of him at age 13, standing in the street in what looked like a ratty bathrobe, and beside him is George Burns. He was writing comedy for Burns at age 13. That is some kind of awesome.
Bradbury’s Venus was memorable too: “The Long Rain” and “All Summer in a Day”.
@opie_jeanne: It was called “I Love Thee, Queen Califia” and it was published in 2001. Great essay.
Found it on Fark, of all places:
Scroll halfway down the page. Dr Fey doesn’t include the photo that accompanied the original essay.
@Warren Terra: I seem to remember it unfolding in a way that suggested something far more reactionary than authorial possessiveness. But it’s been a while.
DFH #6 has a comment indicating that Bradbury was much more of a committed Winger than I ever knew. But I still remember the Fahrenheit 9/11 controversy being about Bradbury being a notoriously cranky guy who felt his stuff was being appropriated rather than being about him cheering on Dubya.
@opie_jeanne: Very cool.
The Ellison documentary, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, is really fascinating and available on Netflix Streaming. He’s an asshole, but he comes across as a very human and understandable asshole in the film.
@Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn: You know, I felt so at the time and the masses certainly spoke their minds, but even before that happened, I felt Bradbury was cavalierly dismissing a legitimate serious concern about nuclear safety. Maybe my brother had just seen “No Nukes” or something and Bradbury’s comment was about the movement against any nuclear power generation whatsoever. As it stands, many of the long term issues are still long term issues, and as he spoke out in favor of the industry so strenously at one time, I’m curious if he wrote anything on Fukishima exorting us to remember that technology will prevail.
My brother didn’t/doesn’t check with me to speak his mind, and he’s the opposite of a DFH, but it certianly was memorable to sit next to the guy that had all those eyes on him (I’m sure relatively kicked in and I shrunk a bit) and gave Bradbury an opportunity for a pithy quip.
It was no Code Pink, but you piss off the wrong people nowadays outside of the “Free Speech Zone” and you’re liable to be subject to Gitmo or a drone strike.
I loved his lyrical writing. The Times has some samples. But to me, his best stuff was his horror. I’m bad with remembering titles but two spring immediately to mind: The story of the man who on impulse gets off a train to try his hand at murder. Or the one where children help aliens invade the earth was chilling.
@Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn: Except that the brother was right, and Bradbury was ignorantly wrong. I love Bradbury’s writing, but he didn’t think well off-the-cuff, nor speak well off-the-cuff, either.