Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP, Mr. Bradbury, How You Still Light up the Stars for Us!

The young Ray
I am so very sad to hear that my favorite writer, mentor and inspiration died today. Ray Bradbury and his stories lit up my world so many years ago when I bought Martian Chronicles at a school book fair. Not just lit me up, but exploded my mind into a million synapses of burning delight. 
Part poet, part magician, and ever the inventive plot-meister, Ray wrote some of the best science fiction around. He was also an illustrator, and did cover art and interior spots for some of his own books. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a deliciously dark book about a carnival coming to town that was more sinister than the usual. (Don't you always suspect that clowns are perverse little demons? Think Killer Klowns from H*ll). His short story, "Fire Balloons" proves that not all summers are the same-old, same-old, but can transport young adults to a place of dreams. In Ray's words: "It's a story in which a number of priests fly off to Mars looking for creatures of good will. It is my tribute to those summers when my grandfather was alive. One of the priests was like my grandpa, whom I put on Mars to see the lovely balloons again, but this time they were Martians, all fired and bright, adrift above a dead sea." To read his whole piece, click here. It's in the June issue of The New Yorker, all devoted to sci-fi! Pick this issue up, it's totally worth the $.

One of Ray's Illustrations
Ray's list of classics is way too long to list here. But mention the title Farenheit 451 and you know how influential he was, and still is. This book is a cautionary tale about how important it is to protect books, and intellectual thinking. It's read in high schools across the country.

My favorite, forever is The Martian Chronicles. I have a version in Russian and French and wherever I travel I pick one up. (MC in Turkish, here we come!) This is the one that first lit my head on fire. His prose poetry still reigns supreme in passages like this: "Mr. and Mrs. K had the fair, brownish skin of the true Martian, the yellow coin eyes, the soft, musical voices. Once they had liked painting pictures with chemical fire, swimming in the canals in the seasons when the wine trees filled them with green liquors, and talking into the dawn together by the blue, phosphorous portraits in the speaking room. They were not happy now." Why? They sensed the coming of the humans from Earth is why!

I could go on and on but I'll leave you with some great links:
For a book containing his illustrations, Bradbury, an Illustrated Life, by Jerry Weist.
For more on Ray's life and work, read today's article on io9, the coolest online SF mag. Click here.
New addition, Obama weighs in on Ray here. Who ever said Obama wasn't a smart guy?!

Mr. Bradbury, I just know you can hear us crying down here, and you're probably saying, "Don't sweat it, folks, I'm having the time of my life in the stratosphere, drinking up virtual Dandelion Wine." So, let's all toast to invention, to Ray Bradbury and his wonderful works.

27 comments:

  1. This ones for you, Mr. Bradbury! May the next world be as delightful as you made this one.

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  2. Oh, this is so sad. I didn't know he passed away today. I taught some of his short stories when I was student teaching. My students loved them. Definitely a loss to the literary world. :(

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  3. The great master is gone. I wonder if most of the world realizes how much this man gave us.

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  4. Yes, Kelly, the stories are ageless. I'll be teaching one from Martian Chronicles in my summer workshop. And, Sue, I saw your post so I know you're impacted.

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  5. I look at how many people are feeling emotional about his passing today -- there are few writers who evoke such powerful memories in so many. I also wrote a eulogy. http://www.lunalindsey.com/2012/06/rip-ray-bradbury.html

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  6. Luna, took a look at your blog, and you mention Ray's book on writing, Zen and the Art of Writing. Nice addition. Also, for those who are curious about Bradbury's audio recordings, take a look at Luna's blog for those.

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  7. A fitting tribute to one of the greats. Maybe with his passing, it will inspire a new generation of fans to begin reading Bradbury. I reading Dandelion Wine right now and think I'll revisit Something Wicked next.

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  8. What a nice tribute. I first read 'Farenheit 451' as a freshman in highschool, and I've shredded my copy from so many rereads. This is what is so beautful about books -- future generations can still discover and enjoy Bradbury's works. He will be missed.

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  9. I was so sad to hear this today. I have my ode to Ray on Friday. He was a big influence on em.

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  10. What a wonderful tribute for a great writer. I loved his short stories too.

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  11. He will be remembered. He left a lot of good reading for us.

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  12. He left us with a body of work that will enlighten, excite, and entice many generations. I feel as if I've lost a close family member.

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  13. Yes, C Lee, he feels like everyone's grandfather.

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    1. He saved a lot of minds and hearts when we were teenagers!

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    2. I think it was because of his ability to comment on society and couch it in such compelling stories that I never recognized what he was doing until much later. Amazing talent. And he said he always started with "What if." I love that.

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  14. He left such an amazing legacy of imagination behind. So sad, though.

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  15. Ever since I read 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' few years back, I've been buying 1 Ray Bradbury book & 1 Joyce Carol Oates novel as my birthday gifts to myself. That's how special he ranks in my world of books. I've saved 'Dandelion Wine' for this year.

    Whenever my writing flame flickers unsteadily, reading 'Zen in the Art of Writing' always, always, always breathes it back strong.

    He would always be my mentor. One of my favourites.

    I hope Mr. Electrico was right, and that Ray would live forever!

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  16. Claudine, that's such a nice gift you give yourself every year! Zen ranks up there, and here's another link to more of his generous writerly advice:
    http://www.openculture.com/2012/04/ray_bradbury_gives_12_pieces_of_writing_advice_to_young_authors_2001.html

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    1. He was a witty and passionate man. Thanks for the link, Catherine.

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  17. Ah, you guys will have to copy & paste that link. It's a good one so perservere.

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  18. What a loss to the literary world. All you have to do is take a stroll through the blogosphere today to see how many lives he influenced.

    J.W.

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  19. RIP Ray Bradbury. He gave us many years of joy

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  20. What a lovely tribute to Ray Bradbury. :-)

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  21. Cheers to that! I'll toast with my dandelion wine to the ever talented Mr. Bradbury. RIP.
    A lovely tribute!

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