Ray Bradbury died yesterday. He was 91.
People who like to write fantasy and science fiction may remember a phase they went through when they tried to write like Ray Bradbury. Well, at least I did, back in high school. This turned out to be a lot like trying to follow a Tolkein elf through deep snow: you watch in amazement as he dances lightly over the snow ahead of you, barely leaving a mark, while you slog through the drifts, up to your waist and struggling for every step.
There was some Bradbury I liked better than other Bradbury, but none of it was bad. I have a shelf of his most famous work. It’s still growing. I hadn’t kept up you see, and while I’d gotten copies of new works when I learned of them I was amazed to find–at a used bookstore–two books of his that I had never read or even heard of. Short stories and detective novels! After all this time, I finally got to meet Elmo Crumley.
Needless to say, I did a sweep of the internet and found a few more new/old Bradbury books to fill in the gaps.
There are words in foreign languages for things that don’t have good English words that quite fit. There should be one for the wonderful feeling you get when you find out a favorite author wrote a bunch of things ten years ago that you haven’t read yet.
The number of people he inspired to become writers must be legion.
In my other life as a space entrepreneur and rocket designer, Bradbury stood as one of my greatest inspirations there too, with his love of space and people going out there. A Muse for all seasons.
Neil Gaiman, another snow dancer who makes wordsmithing seem so effortless, wrote about Bradbury’s passing on his journal.