Ray Bradbury, noted speculative fiction writer, passed away recently at 91 years of age. A long and productive life, though I still feel cheated now that he is gone. He was a giant in my reading youth, and I remember discovering a very large world through his stories. They scared me, saddened me, made me braver, more cautious, more curious, and most of all, more sympathetic to the human condition. This last was what Bradbury was really interested in, humanity. He put his characters in the strangest situations: several poor men sharing one beautiful suit, explorers encountering a malevolent, abandoned Martian city, a house filled with recreations of Poe’s stories, a man rebuilding torn-down movie sets, and many, many more. In all these scenarios, the characters had to face the unexpected as humans, not as cardboard cut-out heroes and villains. His people were real. They demanded an emotional response. Bradbury could make you weep for the loneliness of an isolated farm wife. He could make you despise a tyrannical movie producer. He could keep you awake at night wondering about the darkness and what it held. He took you to impossible places, and each lyrical sentence made you believe in the impossibilities he portrayed. His stories – with their common themes of obsession, justice, and fate – will last a very long time.
Oh, I will miss having him in the world, a writer of note – no, composer of mortal symphonies. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.