Heard about the passing of ray Bradbury this morning, and it made me reflect on his work and his importance to the world of science fiction. Well, really to the world of fiction in general. No hard stats, but I suspect Ray was responsible for more than a few people deciding to go in to the field of science and space.
I first discovered Ray in Junior High, probably when I was about 12. The library had a lot of his books, and he had a LOT of books. i started with his short stories, “R is for Rocket”, “S is for Space”. I found “The Illustrated Man”, and “I Sing The Body Electric”(What a great title). And the novels! He wrote a dozen of them, and 3 of them were insanely popular. “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, “Fahrenheit 451″, and “the Martian Chronicles”.I even picked up his book on writing “Zen in the Art of Writing”. He LOVED writing, it’s pretty clear. Hundreds of stories, plays, articles, etc.
Ray turned me in to a Science Fiction fan, and that love has never left me. His dreams and ideas always seemed pure and uncluttered. He didn’t worry too much about the details, about the “hard science”. Ray was about the idea, the impulse, the spirit of the thing. He fits in the era of “The Rocketeer”, the Superman of old, the farmboy looking up at the sun and wondering.
His Mars was one we could aspire to, could place ourselves in. His warnings were straightforward, and well stated. Stories like “There Will Come Soft Rains” will be around long after you and I have joined Ray on the rocket ship. If I take one thing I learned from Ray to pass on to my sons, it will be this: “Follow what you love, and don’t be afraid of whether your work is good enough”. Ray wrote a lot of stories. Some of them aren’t classics, but as the saying goes ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
So Ray, thanks for all the words, the worlds, and the dreams. You’ll always be with us.