Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

The late Ray Bradbury–you love him even if you don’t know it yet.

Ray Bradbury died today. He was 91. I’m not going to pretend that I read everything he ever wrote. I don’t think many people did, largely because he wrote so goddamn much. But even if you hate reading (not sure why you’re reading a writer’s blog, but whatever), chances are good that you’ve still enjoyed some of Bradbury’s storytelling.

My first encounter with Bradbury was watching Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce. It was, of course, based on the novel of the same name by Bradbury, and while I haven’t seen it in a quarter century or more, it remains one of the creepiest movies I can remember seeing. Maybe not outright frightening, but creepy, like so many of Bradbury’s stories.

Right around this time, I saw his Twilight Zone contribution, “I Sing the Body Electric,” which was the strangest combination of sweet and disturbing I think I’ve ever encountered, even to this day. The episode isn’t often counted among the series’ best, but I can tell you that as a devoted Twilight Zone fan, it’s still one of my favorites.

I don’t know if the production of Something Wicked led directly to The Ray Bradbury Theater, but the anthology series hosted by the writer himself ran on cable from 1985-1992. I remember watching those early seasons with the same kind of dread one feels staring down a dark and echoey hallway, full of imagined clanking and scurrying. The series presented a murderer’s row of Bradbury classics, such as “A Sound of Thunder”, “Marionettes, Inc.”, “Banshee”, “The Playground”, “Mars is Heaven”, “Usher II”, “The Jar”, “The Long Rain”, “The Veldt”, “The Small Assassin”, “The Pedestrian”, “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, “Here There Be Tygers”, “The Toynbee Convector”, and “Sun and Shadow.”

In high school, I finally read Fahrenheit 451. I may have enjoyed other books more (and I really mean may, because I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 very much), but I can honestly tell you that I believe it to be one of the most important books ever written. How someone could have the prescience to predict the inundation of media and connectivity and diagnose its negative effects so accurately a half century before any of it was invented, well, that takes genius.

And I don’t throw that word around lightly.

Several years ago, I discovered the old time radio series, X Minus One, and with it, a number of other Ray Bradbury stories I had never encountered before, including: “And the Moon Be Still as Bright,” “Dwellers in Silence,” “There Will Come Soft Rains,” “Zero Hour,” and “To the Future.”

When my son was in the hospital with pneumonia a couple of years ago, we watched several episodes of “Ray Dradbury” together. I think maybe another screening tonight is in order. And then maybe I’ll dust off a collection of his short stories and chomp away at them like a bag of potato chips until my fingers are greasy and the bag is empty.

I didn’t know Ray Bradbury personally at all, and as a writer, less than I should, but as I type this today, I feel a profound sense of loss. The world lost a giant in the field of writing, the rare kind of–and here comes that word again–genius that comes along maybe once in a generation.

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2 Responses to “Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)”

  1. Aslan's Frau Says:

    A real tribute to a real genius.

  2. […] “Zero Hour,” and “To the Future.” When my son was in the … … Read more: Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) « exlibrislarsen ← BearManorBlog: THE GOOD MUSIC TRIVIA BOOK by Mel […]

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