Amazon had Ray Bradbury ebooks on sale for $1.99 today. Being (euphemistically) between jobs, I can only afford two. I bought The Illustrated Man and Dandelion Wine.
Browsing the titles of the short stories, I realized that some of them, like “The Veldt,” I don’t have to re-read; the story, the setting, the imagery, affected me so strongly, it blossoms from my memory fully formed, like Athena from Zeus’s head.
I discovered Bradbury in high school when we read “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.” After high school, I worked in a couple of bookstores, including Scribner’s on Fifth Avenue. I read voraciously then, and devoured Bradbury’s collections. When I went overseas to London, I sought out British collections of his work, just to have them. I adored the rhythms of the worlds he created.
But I am a 1963 baby.
I grew up with television, and then color television, and telephones, and then cell phones. Defeat of smallpox and rubella flipped into HIV, and Ebola, and antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Lunar launches begat shuttle launches which morphed into a space station, and we can watch, via our home computers, the travels of a mechanized go-cart on surface of Mars.
What was science fiction became science fact and science fact became everyday life.
And at some point, my imagination stalled, but my love of language didn’t.
I was fortunate to meet Ray Bradbury at Archon 20, along with Ray Harryhausen. I was able to thank him, in person, for the wonders he graced us with. I was also able to thank him for his writing lessons: He taught me precision and cadence of vocabulary, and his influence is most likely why my writing is as abbreviated as it is: It’s as if I have an allocation of words and must choose carefully which to use in order to covey my idea with as much economy as possible.
Ray Bradbury passed away in 2012. Wikipedia credits him with writing 27 novels and over 600 short stories.
And we are richer for it.