Famous Science Fiction-Fantasy Writer Ray Bradbury Dies At 91
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com
The master of science fiction-fantasy, Ray Bradbury, passed away at the age of 91 on Tuesday, after spending a lifetime of churning out literary masterpieces like “Fahrenheit 451.”
Bradbury had been slower in recent years due to a stroke that left him tied down to a wheelchair, but he still remained active by writing new novels, plays, screenplays, and a volume of poetry.
He spent his time everyday writing in his basement office in Los Angeles, making appearances every now and then at bookstores, fundraisers, and other literary events. He was responsible for eleven novels, over 400 novelettes and short stories, many screenplays and also children’s books.
Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the 1956 film version of Moby Dick, and authored several episodes of The Twilight Zone.
When director John Huston asked Bradbury to adapt Moby Dick for film back in 1956, Bradbury asked “Why me?” Huston replied, “It was that story of yours about the dinosaur and the lighthouse. I thought I smelled the ghost of Melville.”
In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury wrote about a futuristic world where books have been banned, echoing a theme of anti-censorship. He said that the novel was a commentary on television, and how it was eating away at reading habits, leaving children with short attention spans.
“I didn’t write Fahrenheit 451 to predict the future,” Bradbury once said. “I wrote it to prevent the future.”
Bradbury was not an advocate of the Internet and newer technology, staying true to his meaning behind Fahrenheit 451.
“We have too many cellphones. We´ve got too many internets” he told the BBC in November 2011. “We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.”
After scientists announced they had found evidence of microscopic life on Mars in 1996, Bradbury declined invitations for interviews, claiming he was convinced the scientists were wrong.
Former first lady and former librarian Laura Bush said Bradbury was a friend, and “is a champion of libraries and one of America’s most inventive teller of tales.”
Hollywood stars poured out their condolences and memories of Bradbury after the announcement of his death on Tuesday.
“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,” director Steven Spielberg said in a statement. “He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal.”
Bradbury wrote “The Martian Chronicles” in 1950, which was a series of intertwined stories that had themes of capitalism, racism and superpower tensions.
As much as he fantasized about the future, Bradbury did not travel in a conventional way. He refused to drive in cars and ride in air planes.
He told The Associated Press in an interview that witnessing a fatal traffic accident as a child left behind a permanent fear of automobiles.
“I’m not afraid of machines,” he told Writer’s Digest in 1976. “I don’t think the robots are taking over. I think the men who play with toys have taken over. And if we don’t take the toys out of their hands, we’re fools.”
Bradbury received a Pulitzer Prize citation in 2007 “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” He received an honorary National Book Award medal for lifetime achievement seven years earlier.
He was the descendent of Mary Bradbury, who was tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts.
Bradbury sold his first story in 1941 to The New Yorker after submitting work to pulp magazines until getting published. His first book called “Dark Carnival” was published in 1947.
He wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the UCLA library on typewriters that rented for 10 cents a half hour. He said he carried a sack full of dimes to the library, and completed the book in nine days.
“The great thing about my life is that everything I’ve done is a result of what I was when I was 12 or 13,” he said in 1982.