Ray Bradbury, one of our greatest writers and fantasists, died yesterday at age 91.
Most famous for Fahrenheit 451, an all too prescient future where books are burned because every idea offends someone, somewhere, Mr. Bradbury leaves behind a body of work that taught generations how to dream, and defined wonder in a world where miracles and accomplishments have become commodotized and only appreciated for the money they make.
I’d read his short stories before, and the first was either “All Summer in a Day,” about kids who live on a planet where the sun is only visible for a few hours every seven years, or “There Will Come Soft Rains,” about an automated house left running after humanity has wiped itself out in a nuclear war. Neither is about what I just said, really. They are fantastic embodiments of the world he imagined, for the story to exist at all. Summer is about being a kid, and Rains is about what we leave behind. Bradbury was a genius, and I leave it to better writers to explain it.
Something Wicked This Way Comes changed forever how I think of carnivals. The Martian Chronicles, which I bullheadedly avoided for years because I was “burnt out on space travel stories,” amazed me, and haunts me still. To read Ray Bradbury is to be a child again, exploring a world of wonder with an adult’s understanding. He has left such large footprints that I won’t say that the world is a lesser place for his passing. It is a better one, for having been trod upon by his gargantuan imagination.