Wednesday, June 6, 2012

He Packed His Bags Last Night: RIP Ray Bradbury

One of the greatest fictional writers of all time was Ray Bradbury, and his death yesterday at the age of 91 comes as being highly unfortunate for the fact that literature has lost one of its greatest. Bradbury did plenty to shape science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery during his life and writing career and he's provided with so many good works. Many of which we know, many of which we don't, and many of which we overlook as not being work by Ray Bradbury. 2012 has become a year of plenty of notable, legendary deaths, but this one has to be a huge one for me being an aspiring writer, a book collector, and a president for a literature club.

Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated high school, but that's as far as he went when it came to professional education. Bradbury never went to college, but was very deep into going to libraries and reading from there. He began his writing career as a short story writer and submitting them to magazines. Throughout his life, he has written plenty of notable works. One of his most memorable was "A Sound Of Thunder," which delivers the message and belief that if you go back in time and change ONE element, then everything else that follows changes in the process. He truly put a spin to the way we see time travel. To me, one of his most memorable works is "The Night," the one thing I remember most is how he was able to do something most authors are unable to do, and that is write in second person. He took a story, wrote it referring to "you" as a crucial character, and did it extraordinarily well. In another, titled "The Pedestrian," a man becomes questioned and deemed insane in the year 2053 for taking an ordinary stroll around his neighborhood.

While short stories made a huge portion as to what his writing career was made up of, he could be remembered most for his novels. His most memorable novel happens to be Fahrenheit 451, which is about a future utopia in which firemen don't put out fires, but start them in order to burn books. Book burning was the solution to engaging in government control and the use of censorship. People in this day would have more interaction with their television. In Dandelion Wine, and its sequel, Farewell Summer, Bradbury embraces his summers during childhood and the essence of how it feels. Using different characters and different situations, he created a mesmerizing pair of novels. In actuality, both novels were written at the same time, but only the first part was accepted at the current time period. It would be close to fifty years later until the latter would be produced. Bradbury also questioned the "what-ifs" in life. One of the prime examples was in another famous novel of his, The Martian Chronicles, which questioned what life would be like if we ventured out to Mars and what  kind of life form existed.

Bradbury also made his mark in converting his work to television and more modern entertainment. On the popular TV show The Twilight Zone, his story, "I Sing The Body Electric," appeared. In this story and episode, people are able to create a robotic grandmother. Bradbury created a similar show titled "The Ray Bradbury Theatre." He also created the story that would inspire Elton John's song "Rocket Man." Bradbury would remain active until recent.

Ray Bradbury received plenty of honors, including a crater that was named for Dandelion Wine, a National Medal Of Arts Award in 2004, which was awarded by George W. and Laura Bush, and plenty of other recognition for his commitment to excellent literature.

Another random tidbit about Bradbury is that during his 91 years of living, he has never obtained his driver's license.

I myself want to become a writer that wants to make an impact on people and this is what Bradbury did for a living. Only I will never be like Bradbury and I never want to be identical to him, because he's just incredible. Incredible in a way that nobody could ever match up to. I do, however, have to thank him for proving that there are no limits to writing. There are no technical writing limits and there are no idea limits. You can reach for the stars as long as your imagination is able to take you to such a place.

I was introduced to Bradbury from reading Fahrenheit 451 in my sophomore year of high school, reintroduced during a reading of Dandelion Wine, realized he wrote The Pedestrian, which I read a few years earlier, but didn't connect the pieces at that time, and did my research paper on him during my junior year of high school. My interest for his work went beyond the classroom. I have been collecting his work and intend to read more of his work as time goes by. He's that much of a legend.

The greatest authors ever could probably fit in one room if we want to categorize them in such a term, because not too many authors could be declared "the greatest." Ray Bradbury can definitely be coined as being one of "the greatest" and he will definitely be missed. If only I had the opportunity to meet him, because he was high up on the list. Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

1 comment:

  1. There's also the David Bowie song "Life on Mars", and the Rush song "The Body Electric". Check 'em out if you wish.