Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Madness Calling: On the Death of Ray Bradbury

When people ask me where I get by imagination, I simply lament, "God, here and there, makes madness a calling."

--Ray Bradbury

I first became acquainted with Ray Bradbury when I was probably in the first grade and watched the Disney television special Something Wicked This Way Comes. I loved that movie, but it also gave me nightmares: Mr. Dark was so evil. Bradbury was a prolific author and it wouldn't be until I was in the 8th grade that I actually was introduced to one of his stories ("The Sound of Thunder"). I was fascinated by the tale and wanted to read whatever I could find of is. Sadly, at the time the only Bradbury book my school carried was Fahrenheit 451 (I wasn't sorry they had that book, just sorry it was the only Bradbury book I could find). Years later I would go on to read other Bradbury stories.

I believe when I was in high school there was a tv show called The Ray Bradbury Chronicles that aired on Saturday afternoons. I tried to watch as many of those episodes that I could, but since it was on Saturday mornings on Channel 11, I often wasn't around.

The thing I was most impressed about Bradbury was his passion. His views on topics would change over time, but he was always passionate about whatever it was he was talking or writing about. I read a book of essays he wrote where he tried to predict inventions that would be created in the future. He was really off on many of them, but even the ones that were completely outlandish, he was passionate about.

Personally, I liked Bradbury's nonfiction writing the best. He's known for sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, but I think he really shined in nonfiction. Take for instance the narrative voice in Something Wicked This Way Comes. That's a novel, but the narrative voice is dripped in the historical and biographical details of Bradbury's youth. If you read a lot of his nonfiction writing, this becomes clear. The narrative voice in that story is voice of Bradbury.

He lived a good life and I look forward to reading some of the posthumous stuff of his that will be published. However, in a few years there will be no more original and new Ray Bradbury stories and the world will be a less joyful and passionate place because of that. Here's to the stars, madness, and the future. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.

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