(August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012)
I still remember the fascination I felt when I first read a Ray Bradbury book. It was The Martian Chronicles, a short story collection about human colonies on Mars, and their poignant, even disturbing interactions with the natives of the planet. I later read another book about Martian colonies, The Illustrated Man. That one was equally poignant, and even more disturbing.
I stopped reading Bradbury because of the undercurrent of horror I perceived in his work, but I still consider him one of my favorite authors because of his incredible prose style, as well as his unforgettable characters.
In November of 2010, I read and reviewed what many (including me) consider to be his masterpiece: Fahrenheit 451. I was once more pulled in by the inimitable Bradbury style, his use of striking metaphors, his vivid characterization and sheer storytelling genius. This tale of firemen who burn books struck at my book-loving core. I read the novel practically in one sitting, oblivious to everything around me...
The great master has just passed away. As with another great, Isaac Asimov, we science fiction fans are keenly aware of our loss. There will be no more mesmerizing stories spun by this highly inventive mind, no more strange tales of life on other planets, or incredible dystopias...
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, the son of Esther (Moberg) Bradbury and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury. He was a reader as well as a writer even at a young age. One of his most important early literary influences was Edgar Allan Poe, which is why there's that undercurrent of horror in Bradbury's work. However, he had other major influences, such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, who was his favorite writer. Bradbury's favorite Burroughs work, The Warlord of Mars, even prompted him to write his own sequel to it, at the age of 12!
Amazingly, Bradbury never attended college, although he did take poetry and short story writing courses at Los Angeles High School, from which he graduated. He considered colleges and universities unnecessary, and even declared: "Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression, and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years." (From the Wikipedia article)
Bradbury's career as a writer began in 1938, when he first submitted stories to science fiction fanzines. His first published story, "Hollerbochen's Dilemma", appeared in the fanzine Imagination in 1938.
A chance meeting with the British expatriate writer Christopher Isherwood, gave Bradbury the opportunity to have The Martian Chronicles reviewed by a respected critic.
Bradbury's best-known work, Fahrenheit 451, was made into a 1966 movie starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, and directed by Francois Truffaut.
The Illustrated Man was also filmed, being released in 1969, starring Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom, and Robert Drivas.
The Martian Chronicles was produced as a three-part TV miniseries by NBC, in 1980. It starred Rock Hudson.
Bradbury also hosted a syndicated TV series, The Ray Bradury Theater, from 1985 to 1992. He adapted 65 of his stories for this series.
Bradbury's wife of 57 years, Marguerite (McClure) Bradbury, passed away in 2003. They have four daughters -- Susan, Ramona, Bettina, and Alexandra. The first three are married, and the Bradburys have eight grandchildren.
In an official public statement on June 6, 2012, President Barack Obama said the following: "For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change..." (From the Wikipedia article)
Truer words have never been spoken.
Main Source: Wikipedia article on Bradbury
Here are some of Bradbury's
Mass Market Paperback, 179 pages
(first published 1953)
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
You can access my review of this novel
Hardcover, 268 pages
(first published 1950)
Genre: Science Fiction
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
November 1, 1983
(first published 1951)
Genre: Science Fiction
Mass Market Paperback, 253 pages
(Grand Master Edition)
March 1, 1985
(first published January 1, 1957)
Hardcover, First Edition, 304 pages
June 8, 1999
(first published 1962)
Genres: Fantasy, Horror