Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

I was greatly inspired by Bradbury as a child.  I remember taking an SAT test in 1992, and recognizing a passage from Dandelion Wine they'd used.

Our family had tapes with the Bradbury 13 dramatizations done by BYU in 1984.  Just last month I wanted to share them with the kids, found them, and listened to some of them on vacation.

Some of these stories had huge impacts on me, especially a "Sound of Thunder", about time travel and the effects even small changes could have.  "The Wind" terrified me, and kept me up late, listening to the wind in Eastern Washington, afraid it might get in.

On Twitter today, someone pointed me at these audio productions done in the 1950s, and clearly inspired the later Bradbury 13.

I never got around to reading the Martian Chronicles, but I saw the poorly-made movies.  And obviously Fahrenheit 451, one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time.

He is one of the three greatest classic SF authors, those who founded and popularized science fiction.  They taught literary snoots that sci-fi had something important to say; that as a genre, it could rise above the pulp rubbish.  Of these three -- Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury -- Bradbury was the last alive.

Now they are all gone, and it is up to the generations of new guards to try to fill their shoes; to try to grasp, here in the shadow of a possible mind-boggling singularity, what the future may hold.  To intuit what dangers there may be, that we might warn of them.  To cast about for hope that we may promise it.  It is a tall order, when much of what they foretold has come true.

If you're a writer, or just want to know more about Bradbury's life and creative mind, "Zen in the Art of Writing" is short and very good.

Nothing is more inspiring and mystic to me than reading biographies and seeing documentaries on the lives of old sci-fi writers.  Zen falls into that category.  It is easy to imagine him sitting at a typewriter in 1953.  It is hard to imagine him predicting a future where technology might make it possible for there to be no books.

Thank you Ray, for being on my dad's shelf as I grew up.  If only I could write half as well as you.  You changed the world; you changed my world.  Your words will outlive us all.


  1. I have his Zen book. I had not heard of the audio recordings. Awesome! Following you now on twitter etc. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    1. The BYU production is very well done. Vivid, chilling, gripping. Thanks for stopping by!