One of the genre’s greats and a staunch defender of public libraries, Ray Bradbury, has passed away. He was 91.
Bradbury was a prolific writer, publishing 27 novels and short story collections during his career. His classic Fahrenheit 451 is required reading for most high school students. In addition, Bradbury gave us The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine.
“The only figure comparable to mention would be [Robert A.] Heinlein and then later [Arthur C.] Clarke,” said Gregory Benford, a UC Irvine physics professor and Nebula Award-winning science fiction writer. “But Bradbury, in the ‘40s and ‘50s, became the name brand.”
Much of Bradbury’s accessibility and ultimate popularity had to do with his gift as a stylist — his ability to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here and now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity.
Bradbury frequently attempted to shrug out of the narrow “sci-fi” designation, not because he was put off by it, but rather because he believed it was imprecise.
“I’m not a science fiction writer,” he was frequently quoted as saying. “I’ve written only one book of science fiction. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can’t happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.”
Bradbury was born in Jack Benny’s claimed home town of Waukegan, Ill. Bradbury often referred to his growing up in a small town in his works, especially in Dandelion Wine.
“When I was born in 1920,” he told the New York Times Magazine in 2000, “the auto was only 20 years old. Radio didn’t exist. TV didn’t exist. I was born at just the right time to write about all of these things.”
Bradbury’s daughter confirmed his death to the Associated Press on Wednesday morning. She said her father died Tuesday night in Southern California.