Sadly, one of my literary heroes has passed away.
Ray Bradbury is in many ways the father of science fiction and fantasy. He certainly influenced my fiction writing style in high school. And judging by the way the internet has lit up with eulogies to him, I was not alone.
Who could forget that wonderful prose, and of course those magnificent twists at the end of his short stories, my favourite being ‘And the Rock Cried Out’. That story wasn’t sci-fi or fantasy in any way – it was a commentary on prejudice, but it was so wonderfully written that it was accessible to a young person who only wanted to read about rockets and martians.
A key feature of Ray’s writing was the aversion to technical stuff. While Isaac Asimov and Fred Hoyle were showing off their technical knowledge, Ray was content to tell us how it might feel after your rocket exploded and you fell to earth while discussing your life and fate with shipmates hurtling in different directions (‘Kaleidoscope’). Or hint of the ghostly remains of a once great civilisation (‘The Martian Chronicles’).
And of course, he was able to capture the joy of a young boy running through the fields in summer, and the foreboding which accompanied the distant sound of a calliope on the breeze (‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’).
In a nice gesture, Bradbury’s contribution to the genre was also recognised in the movie Blade Runner, with a lot of the key action taking place in the ‘Bradbury Apartments’, including the final remarkable scenes in which the protagonists fight it out. It’s fitting that the movie voted #1 Sci-fi movie ever, contains this nod to the writer also ranked #1.
I think it’s time to re-read all those Bradbury books accumulated over the years, to re-live past joys, and to remind me of things to come.