Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tribute to a Science Fiction Legend and Favorite Author: Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury
(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.

Here are some of Bradbury's
major works:

Ray Bradbury
Mass Market Paperback, 179 pages
(first published 1953)
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

You can access my review of this novel

Ray Bradbury
Hardcover, 268 pages
Book-of-the-Month Club
(first published 1950)
Genre: Science Fiction

Ray Bradbury
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
November 1, 1983
(first published 1951)
Genre: Science Fiction

Ray Bradbury
Mass Market Paperback, 253 pages
(Grand Master Edition)
March 1, 1985
(first published January 1, 1957)
Genre: Fantasy

Ray Bradbury
Hardcover, First Edition, 304 pages
Harper Voyager
June 8, 1999
(first published 1962)
Genres: Fantasy, Horror



  1. What a nice tribute to a great author. I have loved exploring your blog! It's beautiful. I'm following under jwhitus. I'll definitely be back.
    Have a fantastic day!

    1. Hi, there! Thank you so much for your lovely comments!! Yes, Bradbury is indeed a great author. I'm really sorry he's gone...luckily, he left some truly memorable works behind!

      I really appreciate your comments about my blog, as well as the follow!! You have a fantastic day, too!! <3

  2. I have not read Bradbury, although I have been curious. I know that he was well liked, but unfortunately, I have a private tale about him that keeps me from picking up his work and have not decided to lay that aside yet.

  3. Hey, Steph! I have some reservations about Bradbury's work, as I mentioned in the post, but he's such a GREAT prose stylist, and his characters are so vivid, that I can't help but like him anyway. And he's no less a master at plotting, either. His stories are incredible. The man had a great imagination!

    Now you've got me intrigued regarding this private tale you're referring to. If you want to share it, just shoot me a message on Book Blogs. If you'd rather not, though, I understand.

    Thanks for commenting!! :)

  4. I was sad ro hear about his death. He was tremendous. I read Farenheit 451 in High school and now I want to reread it as well as Something Wicked This Way Comes. I even remember watching Ray Bradbury theater. Such a great talent. He will be missed. Thanks for the lovely memorium post, Maria!

  5. It was a shock when I heard the news...I had no idea he was that old...but even great science fiction writers have to eventually go into eternity...

    I read "Fahrenheit 451" years after "The Martian Chronicles" and "The Illustrated Man". Now I want to revisit all three. I don't think I'll be reading "Something Wicked This Way Comes", but I will definitely read "Dandelion Wine".

    Thank God Bradbury left such a wonderful legacy! You're very welcome for the post, and thanks for your lovely comment!! :)

  6. I can heartily recommend one of Bradbury's books you mention above, "Dandelion Wine." It has the best explanation by a grandparent to a grandchild of the role of death in life. Sounds morbid out of context, but it's really not. I remember reading it as a young adult and finding great comfort there.

    Perhaps the passage of time has dulled my memories of "Something Wicked," but I don't recall it being anywhere near as horrendously horrifying as contemporary horror stories.

    Thank you for your thoughtful tribute to one of my all time favorite authors, a consummate craftsman.

  7. Hi, Anonymous!

    What a wonderful comment you've posted! I greatly appreciate your thought-provoking appreciation of this great writer!! Yes, he was indeed a consummate craftsman, and will be dearly missed...

    Thanks for recommending "Dandelion Wine". I had a feeling, when I came across this one on Goodreads, that I would greatly enjoy it.

    Last Sunday, I bought an omnibus Barnes & Noble edition containing three of Bradbury's best-known works: "The Martian Chronicles", "The Illustrated Man", and "The Golden Apples of the Sun". I have never read the last one, and want to re-visit the other two, which I read years ago.

    Thank you so much for appreciating my article so wholeheartedly! Comments like yours really make my day!!

    I wish you had left a link to your blog, if you have one, so I could have gone there to comment back! :)


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