Ray Bradbury died this week. Bradbury had such an early and profound impact upon my literary tastes as well as upon my thinking. From about sixth grade on I devoured science fiction books. One of the first works that read was The Martian ChroniclesI moved on to The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes as well as additional short stories. Bradbury was one of the first really great writers that I encountered.
While not very aware of theme and characters in those years. I did sense that Bradbury was three or four cuts above the average science fiction writer. His prose was always very poetic and he sometimes wrote whimsical passages in the midst of stories that were otherwise hard science fiction. His tales were cautionary and often pointed to human folly especially when tied to the misuse of technology. He also expressed a strong distrust regarding popular or “mass” thinking that really struck a cord with me.
I still remember when ninth grade English class teacher assigned Fahrenheit 451 how happy and surprised I was as I had already read it! Though this may be his most famous work, his other books may actually be stronger.
Though I have only reread Fahrenheit 451 in my “aware” adulthood, I do seem to remember the other works somewhat vivid detail. In retrospect they really made an impression upon me. It is high time that I revisit these books.
I found this quote from Something Wicked This Way Comes:
"Death doesn't exist. It never did, it never will. But we've drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comprehend it, we've got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing.”