Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, along with many other novels, stories and plays, died Tuesday night at the age of 91 after a long illness. Although widely celebrated as a science fiction writer, he considered all of his works to be fantasy, except for Fahrenheit 451, saying:
First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time — because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.
His influence on science fiction writers and fans was deeply felt, however. He was named an SFWA Gradmaster in 1989, in addition to receiving the World Fantasy Award life acheivement, Stoker Award life acheivement, and being a SF Hall of Fame Living Inductee as well as many other awards and honors. Neil Gaiman’s wrote a touching appreciation of Bradbury in The Guardian, and the obituary in the LA Times, linked above, is great as well.
I remember reading The Martian Chronicles and the short story “The Veldt” as a teenager, when I was first discovering sci fi/fantasy works. Bradbury’s descriptions of the relationships between people and sometimes aliens have stuck with me ever since, even though I haven’t re-read them. They were chilling and dark at times, especially the incredibly creepy story “The Veldt,” which demonstrates Bradbury’s distrust of technology. Another story that has stuck with me, “The Martian” from The Martian Chronicles, is much more sweet, although it too ends on a tragic note. More than 20 years have passed since I read either of these stories, and I still recall them often, which is a testament to the skill of Bradbury as a writer and observer of humanity.
Does anyone else have memories of Bradbury to share?