Someone who knew Ray Bradbury, the writer who died last week, noted in Salon magazine: “Ray was the last living member of a “BACH” quartet — writers who transformed science fiction from a pulp magazine ghetto into a genre for hardcover bestsellers[, along with] Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, and Robert Heinlein…”
My buddy Steve Bissette “heard the news of his passing as I drove… Instantly, a flood of memories—entire passages of Bradbury short stories I first read when I was 11 and 12, his novels, the movies from his tales—rushed through, and I had to turn off the radio to let them come. Ray made us all one of his ‘book people’ from FAHRENHEIT 451, I reckon… all I know is he changed my life, and (along with Lovecraft) instilled the desire to write, which I do every single day of my life.” He shared a link: Ray Bradbury- Story of a Writer (1963); “Bradbury in his prime—and when all the world, it seemed, was his oyster. The man until his death, and that is something more for all of us to aspire to.”
Here’s a story of Ray Bradbury spending three hours slathering the 15-year-old Mark Evanier with advice about writing. Neil Gaiman shares the story of an aspiring writer of age 11 or 12, getting the same kind of time and advice from Ray.
You can watch an hour of Bradbury addressing (mostly) new writers at the Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea in February of 2001. Or read tweets by celebrities.
And what do I have? Just a bunch of Bradbury-penned old episodes of Alfred Hitchcock, plus a classic Twilight Zone episode, which I saw before I even knew his name, and reading a bunch of his short stories, often seeing them adapted into other media.
Plus this: my wife decided to re-read Fahrenheit 451 because she thought it was getting to be too close to prophesy. She borrowed a book from a teaching colleague. But just before she finished it, she dropped the book into a mud puddle. So, separately, she and I bought replacement copies. We kept the one; seems like a book we ought to have on the shelf.