Wednesday, June 06, 2012

On the Passing of Ray Bradbury

Although he often looked toward the future in his fiction, author Ray Bradbury is now part of the past. He died last night at age 91.

As is probably the case for most people noticing this post, I have read Bradbury’s most famous works of fiction--The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). Surprisingly, though, I was less good about tackling his mystery novels--Death Is a Lonely Business (1985), A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), and Let’s All Kill Constance (2002)--but only because I was distracted at the time by other, newer wordsmiths.

I enjoyed a great deal of science fiction in my youth (the same stage of life when Bradbury himself discovered the genre), before I turned mostly to crime fiction in my college years. And even then, I could see that Bradbury was another rung up from most of his contemporaries in the genre. As the Los Angeles Times explains in an obituary:
Bradbury has frequently been credited with elevating the often maligned reputation of science fiction. Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature.

“The only figure comparable to mention would be [Robert A.] Heinlein and then later [Arthur C.] Clarke,” said Gregory Benford, a UC Irvine physics professor and Nebula Award-winning science fiction writer. “But Bradbury, in the ’40s and ’50s, became the name brand.”
Bradbury inspired devotion and sometimes remarkable passions in his followers, and his longevity and great popularity as an author contributed to his influence over the genre. His presence in our world, our time, our space will most certainly be missed.

READ MORE:Ray Bradbury: Twitter Pays Tribute to SF Writer,” by Hannah Freeman (The Guardian); “Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203,” by Sam Weller (The Paris Review); “Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012,” by Ivan G. Shreve Jr. (Radio Spirits); “The Mystery Pulp Past of Ray Bradbury,” by Elizabeth Foxwell (The Bunburyist); “Words Obeyed Him: Ray Bradbury (1920-2012),” by David Abrams (The Quivering Pen); “Death Is a Lonely Business (1985), by Ray Bradbury,” by Sergio Angelini (Tipping My Fedora).

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

"Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature." Some might say that, while waffling with that "helped"...but they'd be vastly, ignorantly wrong. But he was a fine writer of horror, fantasy, sf, suspense and other sorts of fiction (and drama) and his best work (and some of less than best) is loved widely...Benford meant he was almost incomparable in the number of readers he reached while coming out of the fantastic-fiction community. That, along with the quality of his best work, is more than enough for us to remember him fondly.