Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

This blog hasn't taken a departure from Judaism related topics in a long time, but since this particular author had a profound influence on my life, I would like to make an exception.

Ray Bradbury - author of the science fiction series The Martian Chronicles and works like Fahrenheit 451, his most renowned writings - died last night at the age of ninety-one. Acknowledged as the one most responsible for opening science fiction to broader audiences, Bradbury's writings have inspired the myriads of science fiction writers who followed him, not to mention writers of other genres of fiction and non-fiction alike.

Years ago I stumbled upon a seriously modified, child friendly version of one of the original Martian Chronicles tales, and its subtle twist at the end of the story (a twist that completely changed the perception of the whole story in retrospect within one simple sentence) drew me into his world. While my father was partial to Heinlein's work, for the most part his writing didn't speak to me, probably because much of the subtext was over my head at the time. But Bradbury was different - even though his writing could be read at multiple levels, there was still the essential element of the wide eyed wonder when contemplating the world around us, and the possibilities beyond our terrestrial existence. While I will read almost anything that I get my hands on, science fiction has always filled a certain niche in my heart; in a sense my love for science fiction and its cousin fantasy was a catalyst for my introduction to chassidut in the first place, but I digress...

Bradbury's perseverance in the face of numerous rejections is a lesson we can all learn; despite being rebuffed on many occasions from various magazines and monthlies, Bradbury continued writing and bettering himself, submitting articles, essays, and short stories until he achieved his goal. That is an encouraging thought for anyone trying to break into a profession, not just writing.

1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

Excellent post. I shared my favorite quote of his last night on Facebook:
“The only good writing is intuitive writing. It would be a big bore if you knew where it was going. It has to be exciting, instantaneous and it has to be a surprise. Then it all comes blurting out and it’s beautiful. I’ve had a sign by my typewriter for 25 years now which reads, ‘DON’T THINK!’”
-Ray Bradbury

This was kept on my wall in my bedroom and in my dorm in college for many years. His short stories introduced me to the concept of irony when I was in 6th grade.

Aside from a great writer, he was a visionary. He predicted the ATM machine, created teh conept of the food-court at shopping malls, and many other things.