R.I.P. Ray Bradbury
The internet has been abuzz all morning about the death of another Sci-Fi Giant. Ray Bradbury passed away. I saw it in my news feed and felt instantly sad. The last time I felt this kind of sadness was when Arthur C. Clarke passed away. I knew he was quite old and it was only a matter of time, but it still doesn’t take away from the impact of losing another great.
Today I’ve read many memories people have had with Mr. Bradbury over the years. There is much talk about not only what a great writer he was, but also what a great person.
I never had the opportunity to meet Bradbury or to see him at an event. My life took a different path and ours just never seemed to have crossed or I was too interested in something else at the time. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have an impact on my life and my writing.
The book Zen and the Art of Writing has little to do with Zen and a lot to do with writing. Bradbury has such quotes as “Quantity produces Quality”. In his book he recommends writing a short story every day for a year. I tried that and failed miserably writing only 100 (or so) short stories and almost everything I wrote was terrible and got trashed. I did submit a great many of those stories and got 10 published that year (the most I ever have). So I take this quote to heart that the only way to produce great writing is to produce a lot of writing. Eventually something you write will work and once you can figure that out, your writing will only get better. As I’ve said before, it’s harder to get worse at something you do every day.
I’ve read some stories today about how people were “forced” to read Fahrenheit 451 in high school and that was their first experience with Bradbury. For me it was The Illustrated Man. The Veldt always stuck with me and I never forgot the Bradbury name. I could explain the plot of many Bradbury tales and that’s what stuck with me. It wasn’t the science or the deep thinking involved in his stories, it was how people reacted to the given situation they found themselves in and how they got out of the situation if they got out at all.
He wasn’t an alarmist, but Bradbury did try to point out that the future wasn’t going to be as bright as people always hoped it would be. Technology didn’t always win the day in his stories, but more often than not, escaping from technology did. He saw technology as something that would build up more walls between people than it would tear down. Even though I don’t share this view, I can see where he could see that as a possibility. It’s always something that I try to balance in my life (spending time with family and friends vs spending time on the computer writing) and it’s something that everyone should strive for. I know a couple people that I’ve lost for a year or more at a time when they become immersed in video games only to poke their heads up to let people in the real world know they’re still alive.
He leaves behind a legacy of 30 novels (not many for such a career) and over 600 short stories (HOLY CARP!) That’s 600 published short stories. That’s an incredible number to write let alone have published. I doubt I’ll ever have time in my life to read them all, but I’ll certainly take some time to read a few now that they’re on the top of my mind.
Today the world lost a great story teller. There will never be another like him.
Thank you for all you words, Mr. Bradbury. You will be missed.