RIP Ray Bradbury

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Did anyone else’s heart sink when they saw that Ray Bradbury had died?

I grew up on science fiction—that projection of current science into a possible future and the exploration of the impact it could have on human society. The genre as a whole strongly influenced my thinking, and probably contributed to my being a strategist and a writer. Ray Bradbury in particular left a mark with his vivid short stories from The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles.

Two stories from The Illustrated Man, with its undulating tattoos shaping disturbing tales, lodged in my brain. In “The Veldt,” Peter and Wendy have become so attached to their technology (in the form a nursery prophetic of the Star Trek holodeck) that when their parents try to take it away, the children murder them via the lions in the African veldt they’ve created. Parallels, anyone?

And in “Kaleidoscope,” after a space ship explodes, the crew find themselves floating in space—away from each other. Their communications last a short time, and in that span their various reactions are explored. Imagine the inevitable end—imagine speeding through space, running out of air with no one to save you. Imagine how that would feel. Bradbury did, and let us feel it too. THAT is a horror story.

Ray Bradbury is one of those giants upon whose shoulders many other writers and thinkers have stood. I think it’s time to pull out my old, beat-up copies of his work and remind myself just how giant he was.

***

A lovely tribute from Peter Sagal at NPR.

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