Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

Author Ray Bradbury, 1980
Author Ray Bradbury, 1980
Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

Legendary science fiction author Ray Bradbury passed away in Los Angeles late yesterday at the age of 91. During a career spanning more than seven decades Bradbury wrote novels, non-fiction and short stories. He also authored scripts for screen, television and theater.

He is best known, of course, for authoring the 1953 classic, “Fahrenheit 451.” The novel imagines a future in which books are outlawed.

Bradbury was instrumental in bringing science fiction into the mainstream of modern literature. According to The New York Times, more than eight million of his books have sold globally in 36 different languages.

His stories mixed real life perplexities with wonders of science, exposing that cocktail as a mix of both blessings and curses.

Bradbury wrote up until the very last days of his life. Just two days ago, The New Yorker published an autobiographical essay written by Bradbury. In it the prolific author wrote about his very first introduction to science fiction:

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents’ boarding house, in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing Amazing Stories, with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination. Soon after, the creative beast in me grew when Buck Rogers appeared, in 1928, and I think I went a trifle mad that autumn. It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories. You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.

When I look back now, I realize what a trial I must have been to my friends and relatives. It was one frenzy after one elation after one enthusiasm after one hysteria after another. I was always yelling and running somewhere, because I was afraid life was going to be over that very afternoon.

In his New Yorker essay, Bradbury hinted at how the origins of his brand of storytelling were rooted in the experiences of summer days from his childhood.

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.

News of Bradbury’s death has prompted tributes from authors, actors, directors, and storytellers of all sorts. Here are just a few.