This year marks the Centennial of late sci-fi fantasy legend Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012). Over his 70-year writing career, Bradbury sparked imagination in the minds of his readers, transporting them to worlds like no other.
Bradbury grew up in the golden age of science fiction, getting his first taste for the genre when he was eight-years-old. In what was to be his final written piece, Take Me Home, Bradbury said that the creative beast within him first grew when he discovered space opera character Buck Rogers in 1928.
Admittedly, he went a “trifle mad that autumn”, Bradbury proclaims, “It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories[…] You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.” Years later, this would be the same effect that Bradbury would have on his readers.
It seems only fitting that it was a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico that opened Bradbury’s eyes to immortality and inspired him to start writing when he was twelve-years-old. From that moment on, he didn’t stop. Bradbury went on to become the mastermind behind The Martian Chronicles (1950), Farenheight 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957) and Something Wicked Comes This Way (1962).
“Without Ray Bradbury, there would be no Stephen King.” – Stephen King
For renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood, Bradbury’s stories “really sunk in.” Martian Chronicles is her favourite Bradbury novel. In an article written for The Guardian, Atwood said that Bradbury’s enthusiasm for his many devoted readers and his fellow writers never waned.
“I was greatly looking forward to meeting a writer who had been so much a part of my own early reading, especially the delicious, clandestine reading done avidly in lieu of homework, and the compulsive reading done at night with a flashlight when I ought to have been sleeping,” she wrote. Atwood explains that, “Stories read with such enthusiasm at such a young age are not so much read as inhaled […] They sink all the way in and all the way down, and they stay with you.”
His contribution to American fiction in the 20th Century has made him one of the most well-known writers of our time. In 2007, Bradbury received a Pulitzer citation for his “distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” (Pulitzer)
“In an age of writing classes, he was self-taught; in an age of spin, his was an authentic voice, straight from the heartland; in an age of groomed images, he was a natural.” – Margaret Atwood
In A Man Who Won’t Forget Ray Bradbury, accomplished fantasy writer Neil Gaiman said that Bradbury made him dream, taught him what words could accomplish and never let him down as a reader, even as an adult. “He left the world a better place, and left better places in it: the red sands and canals of Mars, the midwestern Halloweens and small towns and dark carnivals. And he kept writing,” Gaiman recalls.
“He was a genre on his own, and on his own terms.” – Neil Gaiman
Beyond books, Bradbury scripted television programs and screenplays, including John Huston’s 1956 film version of Moby Dick. Bradbury is also the inspiration behind Elton John’s song, The Rocketman.
“If he hadn’t existed, science fiction would have been a well-kept secret in literature instead of a widely consumed phenomenon” – Robert J. Sawyer
And for that, we say thank you.
You can celebrate Ray Bradbury’s Centennial at events across the world at raybradbury.com/centennial