Legendary sci-fi fantasy author Ray Bradbury exits planet Earth
Author of influential post-WWII novel Fahrenheit 451 dies at 91
Obituary Ray Bradbury, a master of fantasy fiction and author of the classic dystopian sci-fi novel Fahrenheit 451, has died at the age of 91.
The great man – who once labelled himself a "hybrid author" due to his love of movies, libraries and theatre – passed away on Tuesday night, his daughter Alexandra Bradbury confirmed to the Associated Press today.
"For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values," said the White House in a statement.
Bradbury's 1950 breakthrough series of short stories The Martian Chronicles took a pick axe to Cold War paranoia and superpower stupidity by ridiculing tensions between different nations.
Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, was Bradbury's seminal work, however. The novel depicted a world where books are burned as people battle to keep literary works alive by memorising the classic stories.
Bradbury completed a sequel to Fahrenheit 451 as a computer game on the Atari platform in 1986, where the hero ex-fireman Guy Montag seeks to retrieve scanned copies of the New York public library for the betterment of humanity. Bradbury worked closely on the script and the game is seen as the closure of the story arc.
Bradbury had once described the internet as a "distraction".
In 2009 he said of the interwebs: "[I]t’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere." That comment came after Yahoo! asked Bradbury if he would allow the company to publish some of his work online.
However, in November last year the author did agree to start releasing some of his stories in electronic form.
Bradbury is survived by his four daughters. The author's wife of 56 years, Maggie, died in 2003.
Sam Weller – Bradbury's authorised biographer – once wrote an appreciation of Maggie Bradbury, in which he said:
"In the late 1940s, while she took the 7.30 morning train all the way across Los Angeles every single workday, acting as the household breadwinner in an era when women didn't dare do such things, her spouse was allowed to stay home and work on his writing.
"He honed his craft, shaped his style, sent his material to editors across the continent in the Big Apple. He would not have had this luxury if she didn't bring home a paycheck.
"He would have been forced to get a day job and this, very likely, would have been the death knell for his writing career. The proverbial butterfly would have been squashed and the future of high-imaginative literature would have been altered for all time." ®
I read "Martian Chronicles" when I was about 7 or 8... can't remember for sure.
But it contained two stories that gave me a perspective that for a child were astonishing: "August 2026: There will come soft rains" and "April 2026: The long years".
They both talked about the fast and brief time that is human live, how we can be survived by our creations and the incredibly ridiculous that our problems can be when they are seen from that point of view.
"There will come soft rains" contains a very brief and powerful poem by Sara Teasdale, that gives its name to the story:
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
R.I.P. Mr Bradbury
The world loses another great voice
I started reading Science Fiction when I was perhaps 10 years old. Back then, the old pulps were prevalent, Astounding, Analog, Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Fantastic, Unknown, etc etc.
To me, Science fiction magazines and 25 cent novels were better than any television program because they could transport you bodily into an unknown world drawn from your own minds eye. Nothing was more vivid than that. Oh, and the front covers often showed cleavage, usually of hot blue eyed blondes in scanty outfits being attacked by bugeyed tentacled creatures. That why they call it "Fantasy"!
Friends had boxes of these I could read whenever I liked. When I came across Ray Bradbury, I just had to read everything I could get my hands on. I nearly died laughing when Farhenheit 451 became required reading in high school, first because I'd already read it several times, next because of the sheer irony. Too bad the teachers didn't even grasp it's true meaning.
I have read Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Illustrated Man, Martian Chronicles I sing the Body Electric, and countless short stories of which Bradbury was a master.
The world lost a great voice, one that could see the future and through his writings let others see it too.
The only trouble is that it appears that so few have actually read these prophetic novels of Bradbury and others because almost no one has learned the lessons within them.
A funny thing about 451 F
Apparently, most English lit teachers teach it as being about censorship.
And many disagreed with Ray when he told them it wasn't what the book was about.
Kudos to an author living to tell off members of that particular profession when they over-analyze, as they seem compelled to.