The AP is reporting that Ray Bradbury, the science fiction-fantasy master who transformed his childhood dreams and Cold War fears into telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters, and, in uncanny detail, the high-tech, book-burning future of “Fahrenheit 451,” has died. He was 91.
I read “Farhenheit 451” when I was in eighth grade and my teacher didn’t know what to do with me anymore, because I had completed all the SRA reading levels by October (see ya, aqua!).
The reading experience was transformative. I got to read this sci fi book for credit? And while my classmates toiled away at the SRA cards, I kicked back with Bradbury and this crazy book filled with characters who had memorized so many other books, because, as everyone knows, Farhenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper burns.
I didn’t even have to write a paper about the novel. I just sat and had a 20-minute talk with the teacher about it, and then I was free to move on — so then I read Martian Chronicles, and then other sci fi, such as Heinlein’s Stranger in a Stranger Land and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
In many ways, Bradbury was my introduction to sci fi as something more than an escape, but a means for intellectual pursuit.
What’s your Bradbury story?
“Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.” One of the most profound, beautiful lines ever in a novel. Many people don’t know that this line is from Scottish author Alexander Smith’s “Dreamthorpe.” At any rate, Bradbury help a lot of hours pass by in my youth… while time fell asleep in the afternoon sunshine.
“The Long Rain.” The short story is awesome. I read it when I was about 13 and has stayed with me since.
“All Summer in a Day”, in a Weird Tales reprint I bought in 4th grade.
I read everything Bradbury wrote a long time ago. The dust witch in Something Wicked This Way Comes sticks in my mind. The Fruit in the Bottom of the Bowl was memorable as well. There are too many novels and stories to mention. I’ve read a lot of SciFi before and since and and I always looked forward to a fresh Bradbury offering.