The great authors of science fiction are often grouped into categories and historical time frames. First came the Innovators: Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. The next group are affectionately called the Grand Masters of Modern Science Fiction, a group that consists of four amazing and talented men: Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlien, and Ray Bradbury, who passed yesterday at the age of 91.
Born in 1920, Bradbury was a voracious reader and was influenced by the work of Poe, Burroughs, and Verne. His habit was to write every single day whether the muse was present for hours or for a few moments. Libraries, books and writing were constant companions throughout his entire life. He fought tirelessly for literacy, libraries, and reading programs throughout his life. In an interview in 2009, he said,
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.
His obsession with the written word stayed with him his entire life. His works became apocryphal. His messages were universal. His appeal spanned generations and genre’s. Francois Truffaut translated Fahrenheit 451 into a film. Rod Steiger played the Illustrated Man. Jason Robards terrified us in Something Wicked This Way Comes. NPR produced Bradbury 13, which won a Peabody Award. His work will continue for many years to come with the efforts of The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in Indiana.
Who doesn’t know Bradbury’s work? His ISFDB pages lists his written accomplishments, but there is something that a listing of all those awards, accolades, and published books cannot say. Ray Bradbury brought wonder into the world. Of the Grand Masters, it was he who took us to Mars, the carnival , The Halloween Tree, The October Country….
He sang the body electric, and I mourn his passing.