Ray Bradbury, author of ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘Dandelion Wine,’ remembered by fans

June 7, 2012

Ray Bradbury, one of the most recognizable and monumental science-fiction authors of all time, died Tuesday at the age of 91. He endeared himself with fans through his extensive work, which was full of imagination as well as dark but poignient social commentary, says reporter Becky Krystal:

His body of works, which continued to appear through recent years to terrific reviews, encompassed more than 500 titles, including novels, plays (“Dandelion Wine,” adapted from his 1957 semi-autobiographical novel), children’s books and short stories. His tales were often made into films, including the futuristic story of a book-burning society (director Francois Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451” in 1966), a suspense story about childhood fears (“Something Wicked This Way Comes” in 1983) and the more straightforward alien-attack story (“It Came From Outer Space” in 1953).

He helped write filmmaker John Huston’s 1956 movie adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel “Moby-Dick” and contributed scripts to the TV anthology programs “The Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” Mr. Bradbury hosted his own science-fiction anthology program, “The Ray Bradbury Theater,” from 1985 to 1992 on the HBO and USA cable networks.

“Bradbury took the conventions of the science-fiction genre — time travel, robots, space exploration — and made them signify beyond themselves, giving them a broader and more nuanced emotional appeal to general readers,” said William F. Touponce, a founder and former director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

But what exemplified the writer’s passion perhaps more than what he produced was his passion for books. Almost anyone who picked up a copy of his creations could tell, says ComPost’s Alexandra Petri:

He loved books. He wrote like a man who loved books.

That stampeding sound you hear right now is the noise of the whole Internet dashing off to pen tributes to Mr. Bradbury. And he deserves them, of course. He is one of those writers who makes you want to write.

“What sad news about Ray Bradbury,” we type into our glowing screens, earbuds blocking out all sound, not having read a book in months.

He said so many things so wonderfully that you get lost and dizzy trying to cull a few lines to point to.

But what always shone through Bradbury’s prose was his absolute dominating passion for the book. Even in outer space, his protagonists read Poe. He had more to say about books and writing than about almost anything. (“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”)

Bradbury left us with much more than his volumes of work, however. His examination of what humanity gained and also lost through its ever-growing love of technology resulted in many predictions, several of which showed in­cred­ible foresight, says reporter Hayley Tsukayama:

●The people in the “Fahrenheit 451” society sport “seashells” and “thimble radios,” which bear a striking resemblance to earbuds and Bluetooth headsets.

●Members of that futuristic society are also as obsessed with their large, flat-screen televisions as are today’s technophiles, and the viewing screens in Bradbury’s stories often take up an entire wall.

●In fact, the novel mentions that people are talking to their friends through the digital wall — the same terminology that Facebook would use years later for the digital hub that enables friends to post and see messages.

●The idea of electronic surveillance also popped up in Bradbury’s work way before closed-circuit television became a fixture in cities around the world. He was early in warning people about how surveillance could be abused — worries that echo today.

●Bradbury’s criticism of the coverage of live media events in “Fahrenheit 451” is fodder for media critics’ columns today. Bradbury disparaged constant, sensationalized news.

●Bradbury also envisioned automated banking machines in the novel. The machines bear a striking similarity to ATMs and provide 24-hour financial information to users.

In “I Sing the Body Electric!” and other stories, Bradbury explored  artificial intelligence and the philosophical implications of advancements in AI that could perhaps produce thinking, feeling machines.

Many fans reacted by reviving poigniant and touching quotes through social media, says Bethonie Butler of Style Blog:

On Life

Dalek Thay @DalekThay "We are an impossibility in an impossible universe." -- Ray Bradbury #RIPRayBradbury

Bradbury recently penned an essay for the New Yorker in which he wrote about his childhood fascination with Mars, which ultimately led him to write a story called “The Fire Balloons.”

The essay, titled “Take Me Home,” captures the memories that influenced Bradbury’s work.

“While I remained earthbound, I would time-travel, listening to the grownups, who on warm nights gathered outside on the lawns and porches to talk and reminisce. At the end of the Fourth of July, after the uncles had their cigars and philosophical discussions, and the aunts, nephews, and cousins had their ice-cream cones or lemonade, and we’d exhausted all the fireworks, it was the special time, the sad time, the time of beauty. It was the time of the fire balloons.”

Janna O'Shea @dreamyeyed "Stuff your eyes with wonder,' he said, 'live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds." — Ray Bradburytmblr.co/Z54r7yMsgS8x

Fellow writers and filmmakers also reacted, expressing sentiments sadness for the loss of the creative mind, reports the Associated Press:

“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career. He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.” — Steven Spielberg

“He was always my favorite science fiction writer because what he did was rooted in reality. He never got really out there.” — Tom Wolfe

“Somebody go back in time and step on a butterfly so Ray Bradbury lives to be a million.” — “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jenning

More on Ray Bradbury:

Stephen Colbert burns ‘Fahrenheit 451’ to honor Ray Bradbury [VIDEO]

Ray Bradbury’s legacy remembered by game developers at Electronic Entertainment Expo

Ray Bradbury dies: Favorite quotes from the ‘Fahrenheit 451’ author

Ray Bradbury, lover of books

Ray Bradbury dies: Science-fiction author of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘Martian Chronicles’ was 91

Dreams of Ray Bradbury: 10 predictions that came true

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