Remembering Ray Bradbury
"We have too many cellphones. We've got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now." Ray Bradbury
Venus In Transition
On Tuesday night of this week ( June 3-9 2012) Ray Bradbury died at age 91. The very next day Venus passed between the earth and the sun, a rare event that will not occur for another 120 years. I can't help letting my imagination run wild and believe that this is actually an image of Bradbury's soul traveling through our solar system, a place where he should feel very much at home. His death signals a great loss for sci-fi readers everywhere, but undoubtedly his works will be read for many future generations to come.
Ray Bradbury In 1975
Ray Bradbury was well known for his prolific literary outpouring that included many short stories, novels, TV scripts and raucous comments about the literary world and life in general. One of his most recent comments raged about that upstart newcomer the e-book. It reads; "There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel."
However, in the last year of his life Bradbury succumbed to publishers' wishes and allowed his tree books to become ebooks. Putting aside his dislike of new technology, Ray was perhaps one of the most interesting (and irascible) author of the twentieth century.
From a modest background that did not allow him the luxury of a college education, Mr. Bradbury rose through the literary ranks to be considered one of the finest science fiction writers of his era.
Born and raised in working-class Waukegan, Illinois, he pushed storytelling forward with his riveting accounts of strange worlds that lay beyond our everyday comprehension. It didn't matter if he was writing about his old stomping grounds on the shores of Lake Michigan or the cold, gravity-free world of space travel, Bradbury presented his literary creations always accompanied by a vivid imagination and sharp wit.
I first became aware of Bradbury, not through his widely-read novels, such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, but rather his volumes of short stories. From there I discovered Dandelion Wine, a marvelous piece of fiction that explored his youthful years, living in Waukegan. Also based on his Waukegan youth were the stories Something Wicked This Way Comes and Farewell Summer.
However, the Bradbury family did not remain in northern Illinois forever. First they left the Lake Michigan shoreline for Tucson, Arizona, eventually settling in Los Angeles, where Ray graduated from high school.
Celebrating the Short Story
In 1938, Ray Bradbury published his first story, Hollerbochen's Dilemma, which was released by a fanzine called imagination. It would eventually take Ray another three years before he received his first payment for a short story. This momentous event occurred in 1942, when The Lake was sold for a grand total of 13.75. Undaunted by low pay, Ray was a full time writer by the end of the year. Bad eyesight had kept him out of the Armed Services, so Ray dedicated himself to writing, when most people were caught up in the war effort.
Ray continued writing short stories for the rest of his life, but in 1949, economic pressures forced Mr. Bradbury to release his first novel, The Martian Chronicles. Actually, this book came about as a connected series of short stories, strung together at an editor's request.
Springtime On Mars
Not From Byzantium
Byzantium, I come not from,
But from another time and place
Whose race was simple, tried and true;
I dropped me forth in Illinois.
A name with neither love nor grace
Was Waukegan, there I came from
And not, good friends, Byzantium.
These words are from Bradbury's Intro to Dandelion Wine, where he explains to the reader what the novel is about. Actually titled, Byzantium, the short preface contains this beautiful passage that for many readers has become synonymous with Bradbury's unique and forthright outlook towards life. Read it and revel in it good friends for this short collection of words portrays an attitude that is harbored by many successful writers.