Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Ray Bradbury passed away today.

The L.A. Times has a thorough and touching article here: Ray Bradbury dies at 91; author lifted fantasy to literary heights.

I don't know if this is still true for kids today, but for my era, the first encounter with a Ray Bradbury story was a magical moment. In particular, his short stories (particularly "The October Country" and "The Illustrated Man") always resonated with me in ways I couldn't explain.

Wait, I guess I can explain it, in a way. I've always felt that the dominant theme in science fiction is this: what does it mean to be human? Every story Bradbury ever wrote was about this, really, and he was unique among science fiction writers of his era in that his work was incredibly accessible to everyone.

Plus, it was lean. Every paragraph, every sentence, was so carefully constructed. His writing was both incredibly human and almost mathematical in its precision.

Bradbury claimed he was a fantasist, not a science fiction writer, but the label doesn't matter in the least. He was a storyteller, like all great writers are, and long after I've forgotten every word I've read of other writers, I still remember moments in his stories like I just read them this morning.

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