I’ll miss you, Ray Bradbury
Today the world lost a literary icon, as treasured fantasy author Ray Bradbury has passed away at the age of 91. Born in 1920, Bradbury was an avid reader and writer his entire life, publishing his first short stories at the age of 18. Often categorized as a science fiction author, Bradbury’s work does share some traits with the genre but he preferred the title of “fantasy author”, citing the fact that most of his stories were too fantastical to ever actually come true. In addition to authoring hundreds of short stories and nearly fifty books, Bradbury also made an impact on several decades’ worth of television. His stories were adapted for episodes of The Twilight Zone, Tales of Tomorrow, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as the syndicated series The Ray Bradbury Theater, which ran for seven years and was hosted by Bradbury himself. He remained an active presence at science fiction conventions up until 2009, when health and age finally forced him into retirement.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury twice made an impact on me in my youth. I can’t remember which came first, but both were around late elementary school or early junior high. I saw the live action Disney adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which completely captured my imagination and to this day is my favorite feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s work. Mr. Dark, portrayed perfectly in the film by Jonathan Pryce, is a character that remains firmly entrenched in my psyche: so obviously sinister, but at the same time who wouldn’t want what he’s selling? The other big moment was my first reading of Fahrenheit 451, which I believe to be the first time I realized that the future might go horribly wrong. Books have always been a refuge for me, and the notion that one day they could all be taken away was incredibly jarring to my young mind.
Going forward from those moments, I would pick up and read anything I saw with Bradbury’s name on the cover, and my life has been all the better for it. In addition to the recommendations I’ve already made, check out The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, The Golden Apples of the Sun, and I Sing The Body Electric. If you have young readers in your house, do them a HUGE favor with copies of The Halloween Tree and the excellent collection of young adult sci-fi stories S is for Space.
Thank you for everything, Mr. Bradbury. You didn’t need Mr. Dark’s help to live forever; your work will endure.