Its all over the interwebs now that Ray Bradbury died today at 91. I knew he wasn’t well. In the pictures, he looked tired and worse for wear. I remember that a few years ago, he was supposed to be a guest at San Diego Comic-Con but couldn’t attend. And yet reading that he’d finally passed away was still a blow.
I was very young—I don’t remember how young anymore—when I picked up a worn out and threadbare paperback of his collection of short stories called I Sing The Body Electric from my school library. I remember those science fantasies not only gripping me with their wordplay and vitality but also opening my mind up to the possibilities of creating fiction, of world building, of telling stories using the incredible to, perhaps paradoxically, make your emotional points more credible.
When I got older and seriously questioned authority, I read Fahrenheit 451, his novel about censorship in a draconian future. Not only was the story and his wordplay gripping, but it showed me that fiction could not only be enjoyable but important.
I may not have been the biggest Bradbury fan (I haven’t read everything he’s written, I didn’t follow him personally). But his impact on me as a writer was immediate and profound. I’ll always be grateful that I found his works and for the impact he had on me. The io9 article I linked to at the beginning of this article has an interview with his grandson, talking about Ray’s love of living and of life. I think he has given life not only to his own stories, but to generations of other writers with stories and perspectives and vitalities of their own. I can’t think of any better tribute to the impact of a writer than that.
Goodbye, Ray. We’ll miss you.