RIP Ray Bradbury
“It is good to renew one’s wonder,” said the philosopher. “Space travel has again made children of us all.”
-Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
I remember very clearly when my long enamored entanglement with science-fiction began. I was in seventh grade English, and the class was given a long double-sided list of books to choose to read independently for the remainder of the semester. Amidst the titles of Tolstoy, Twain, Steinbeck, and others was a name that at that point had been unknown to me. Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles. I chose the book at the time, because I was a lazy student and it had the shortest page count. But by the end of the reading assignment, I had already read the entirety of the book thrice, and some stories within it even more. The spine of the small paperback was nearly entirely white with all the creases, blotting out the name of the author and book. Dog eared pages marked the stories that had most captivated my adolescent imagination including “The Earth Men”, “The Third Expedition”, and “Usher II”, which were all filled with the throbbing anxiety and horrors of exploring a vast unknown.
Re-reading the anthology as I got older, I came to better appreciate the subtler short stories that echoed soft politics both personal and sociological that came with the hope and wonderment of entering a new world. Something about the stories of the first human settlement to Mars, mirrored the experiences and ideologies of my own family’s immigrant stories, and that parallel would forever resound in my own creative and personal doctrines.
My first copy of the book, tattered by my careless love, must have perished long ago. The copy I own now is worn at the edges, but the spine is still intact, and the inside cover has my brother’s name on it. I remember now that when he became a willful seventh grader that resisted reading assignments like the dentist, I had also told him to choose Bradbury. And I remember how after The Martian Chronicles he began to fill his shelf with Dandelion Wine and Fahrenheit 451 as well.
Farewell, Ray Bradbury. Thank you for all your imagination and your wisdom.
Giraud, Sendak, now Bradbury…2012 has been a year of sending off some of my greatest personal heroes. I’m going to go cry over a pile of all the books I have on/by them now.