Last week we lost an American icon and treasure. While this is a sad event, I am dedicating this post to celebrating science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s life and the gifts he gave us.
On my 12th birthday I received a book of Bradbury’s 100 best short stories, and spent the next month consuming it as if it was candy. I went on to read every book and collection, from Long After Midnight to The Illustrated Man. And of course, Fahrenheit 451. Each story was an inspiration, blooming with color, and brimming with adventure. The Veldt left me cringing, and The Blue Bottle transported me to the dry, red soil of Mars.
What I loved most was his ability to envision a futuristic world that had realistic people in it. He took the mundane and transplanted it into a what-if world. He made magic out of the ordinary, and put people in situations that made them extraordinary. What would you do if you were the only person left on a barren planet? What choices would you make if you had the ability to make magic but at a price?
I also loved Bradbury because of his character. He was a humble man, who appreciated his gift and his life.
“In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.” he wrote in a book of essays published in 2005. “Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”
While the world will miss him, he led a long and fruitful life of 91 years. The Good News for today is that we can read Ray Bradbury’s stories again and again with pleasure. I know I will. And perhaps we’ll make our way to Mars some day…at least we can dream of it.