Ray Bradbury 1920-2012

Author Ray Douglas Bradbury passed away June 5, 2012 after a long illness. He was 91. Bradbury was the author of 27 novels and 600 short stories, and in my humble opinion the founder of modern Science Fiction and Fantasy.  It was his stories that truly grabbed me as child and started my lifelong love of the genre. Stories such as the speculative Fahrenheit 451 encouraged me to think of the “what if”.

My favorite story of his is “A Sound of Thunder”. The short story is about hunters who go back in to the past to hunt “big game” or dinosaurs. The hunters are cautioned to stay on the path that had been carefully constructed so that nothing was disturbed. If so much as a single leaf was disturbed it could change the future or the hunter’s present time. In the story, a butterfly is accidently crushed. When the group gets back to their time, sure enough everything changed. I was young when I first read the story, I will say I always wondered how they built the path without disturbing anything. I always intended to ask the Mr. Bradbury if I got the chance to meet him. Unfortunately, that meeting did not happen and I shall never know.

Bradbury was born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, to Esther and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, a power and telephone lineman. He was related to the Shakespeare scholar Douglas Spaulding and was also descended from Mary Bradbury, who was tried at Salem witch trials in 1692. Like many authors, Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth and was greatly influenced by the Edgar Allan Poe. Bradbury was impressed with Poe’s ability to draw readers into his works. He also really liked Edgar Rice Burroughs.  He loved Burroughs’  “The Warlord of Mars” so much that at the age of twelve he wrote his own sequel.

Mr. Bradbury was denied service into the military during World War II due to his bad eyesight and due to that rejection; he began to write every day. His first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma”, which appeared in the fanzine Imagination! in January, 1938. From there he wrote 27 novels and over 600 short stories.  More than eight million copies of his works, published in over 36 languages, have been sold around the world.He influenced many people, not only myself, but the likes of Filmmaker Steven Spielberg who stated that Bradbury is “[his] muse for the better part of [his] sci-fi career…. On the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal”.

Although many will miss Bradbury and it is indeed sad, we are fortunate that his works will live on, and his influence and inspiration will continue through generations to come. Rest In Peace Ray Douglas Bradbury.

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