Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Remembering Ray Bradbury

Photo From Wikipedia

August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012

Today, I think is an appropriate post as we pay homage to a fellow writer and brilliant man – Ray Bradbury, science fiction and fantasy author.

Ray Bradbury was born in Illinois to a Swedish immigrant mother; his father was a power and telephone lineman. He was a descendant of a convicted Salem, Massachusetts witch who was convicted to hang in 1692.

He spent much of his youth in the library reading and writing and was particularly fond of Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, even writing his own sequel, to Burroughs’ book The Warlord of Mars, at age twelve.

Bradbury made it a lifelong habit to write everyday and was especially taken with the path of becoming an author after he saw a carnival show at age twelve in which the magician touched him on the nose with a magic sword and told him to “live forever.” At this age he started to perform magic tricks, which was his second love.

As his father pursued employment, the family moved west to Tucson and eventually settled in Los Angeles where Ray graduated from Los Angeles high School. He never went to college but sold newspapers on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and South Norton Avenue. He had this to say about his education:

“Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

Bradbury wrote his most famous book Fahrenheit 451, on a rented typewriter, in the UCLA Powell Library.

He was rejected from military service due to his poor eyesight and so he started his writing career, inspired by Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon. He attended a meeting of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society in a downtown coffee shop and met such writers as Robert Heinlein, Fredric Brown, Leigh Brackett, among others. Later, by chance, he met Christopher Isherwood, a British expatriate writer, in a bookstore and saw the opportunity to hand him a copy of The Martian Chronicles for his review.

Bradbury was generally labelled as a science fiction writer, but he rejected that and said:

“First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, its fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time — because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”

He was a believer that people were too taken up with technology and didn’t do enough reading. He was skeptical of the internet, believing it limited people’s ability to communicate with each other. He believed we had too many cell phones and machines, even though his novels predicted such things.

Besides his fiction, he also wrote essays on arts and culture and hosted “The Ray Bradbury Theatre” based on his short stories. In the 1980’s, he concentrated on detective fiction.

He was married from 1947 to 2003 when his wife died. He leaves behind four daughters and grandchildren.

The author wanted to be buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery with a tombstone that reads: Author of Fahrenheit 451.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Ray Bradbury:

"If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories - science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." -- Ray Bradbury

Read more of his story here:

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