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June 6, 2012 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Ray Bradbury has passed away.
posted by mightygodking (470 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2012


-.. .- -- -.
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posted by middleclasstool at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012


-.-. --- -- . / .... --- -- .
posted by tilde at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.

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posted by gauche at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I love his work. One of my favourite authors. This is a sad day.
posted by h00py at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Flood at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012


And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [192 favorites]


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posted by samhyland at 7:17 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Godbert at 7:17 AM on June 6, 2012


I hope he got to see the sun over Venus one more time.
posted by moonmilk at 7:17 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


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posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:17 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by sarble at 7:18 AM on June 6, 2012


This is making me profoundly sad. I have a vivid memory of being in an airport a few years ago, and was reading "One More For the Road." And I remember reading the story about the father who couldn't be persuaded to take down his son's basketball goal, and I had to stop reading. It was such a very real sense of loss and sadness, and I just couldn't read anymore. And I'm feeling that same way right now.
posted by jbickers at 7:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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Arrgh. So many nights reading his short stories under the covers with a flashlight.
posted by PussKillian at 7:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aw, crap.

Fahrenheit is one of the best kunstlerromans I've ever read.

Godspeed, sir.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:19 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 7:21 AM on June 6, 2012


I knew that down there, by the lake, in his special tent, was a magician named Mr. Electrico.

Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, "Live forever!"

I thought that was a wonderful idea, but how did you do it?

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:21 AM on June 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


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posted by Captain_Science at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by deezil at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by dazed_one at 7:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Martian Chronicles changed my life for the better. And it was only the beginning of my romance with Mr. Bradbury and his beautiful mind. Thank you, sir.

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posted by minervous at 7:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


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Has anyone checked in with Wisconsin to see if they are spelling more things with Ks?
posted by Artw at 7:26 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by DaddyNewt at 7:26 AM on June 6, 2012


noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


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goddamnit
posted by infini at 7:27 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by longdaysjourney at 7:27 AM on June 6, 2012




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posted by blurker at 7:27 AM on June 6, 2012


I'm familiar with his work.

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posted by jonp72 at 7:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by crocomancer at 7:27 AM on June 6, 2012


Martian Chronicles are engraved in my soul.

The movie Farenheit 451 is still burning.

He became an old windbag, and so will I.

Godspeed, great artist.
posted by bru at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I haven't read any of these stories since I was a kid, but there are some strange and disturbing images etched into my mind. An old man melting on a carousel, a dead butterfly on somebody's boot, predatory wild animals behind the walls of the living room... they're all coming back to me now.

If a single writer got me into reading real, grown-up science fiction, it was Bradbury. A sad loss.
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posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by tspae at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2012


I loved The Martian Chronicles as a kid. And then as I got older I treasured so much more of his writing -- short stories and novels alike. He had a wonderful way of capturing characters and making them real; of telling rip-roaring yarns and quiet, thoughful stories that stuck with you for days, weeks and months afterwards. He was one of the first authors whose work I read repeatedly. It wasn't that I couldn't put them down -- I didn't want them to end. So I revisited them again and again.

Paris Review: The Art of Fiction, an interview of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller

Video: An evening with Ray Bradbury. "Science fiction author Ray Bradbury regales his audience with stories about his life and love of writing in "Telling the Truth," the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea [in 2001]". Also, A Conversation with Ray Bradbury.

Video: Ray Bradbury on Writing Persistently

Video: NEA Big Read: Meet Ray Bradbury

Alice Hoffman in the LA Times, on the occasion of Bradbury's 91st birthday last August:
Bradbury tells the story of how, as a boy in 1932, he went to a country fair where a carnival entertainer named Mr. Electrico touched him on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end and shouted "Live forever!"

He has certainly achieved eternal life through his books, which are destined to live on. But it's beginning to seem as if he took the "live forever" command literally as well. On Monday Ray Bradbury turns 91, and his birthday is the perfect day to reflect on all he has given us.

The writer who says he was "raised in libraries" wrote a work of genius warning of a future in which books are so dangerous that they are burned. Where did he write it? In a library, of course, at UCLA, working on a rented typewriter.

His ambition was to be both a magician and a writer, and he managed to become both. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair, which I remember visiting in Queens, N.Y., as a 12-year-old so ready for the future that I could barely stand still in the present. He worked on the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World and contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney France. His script "I Sing the Body Electric" was the 100th episode of the greatest television series in history, "The Twilight Zone." He wrote the screenplay for Melville's "Moby Dick," directed by John Huston, and his own books were turned into brilliant movies, including "Fahrenheit 451," directed by Francois Truffaut and starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner, and "The Illustrated Man" starring Oscar winners Claire Bloom and Rod Steiger.
A shame he couldn't live forever. :(
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


Many of his stories got me through the bleakest moments of my life.

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posted by crush-onastick at 7:30 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by zizzle at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2012


It's going to be bittersweet, the next time someone asks about "All Summer in a Day" in AskMe.

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posted by rewil at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by rumposinc at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2012


        |
       / \
      / _ \
     |.o '.|
     |'._.'|
     |     |
   ,'|  |  |`.
  /  |  |  |  \
  |,-'--|--'-.|
The rockets set the bony meadows afire, turned rock to lava, turned wood to charcoal, transmitted water to steam, made sand and silica into green glass which lay like shattered mirrors reflecting the invasion, all about. The rockets came like drums, beating in the night.
posted by lholladay at 7:32 AM on June 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


Hearing this just made the tears start to pour out of me like rain.

Be in peace, Ray.

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posted by dbiedny at 7:33 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by Aquaman at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2012


I can't find his recent New Yorker article online, it's in the ScI Fi issue that just came out, but I can thoroughly recommend tracking it down. I'd probably tear up reading it now.
posted by Artw at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ooooh, no! I just started reading his stuff I'd never gotten around to.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2012


His stories were all a bookish kid could have wished for.

When I hit the atmosphere, I’ll burn like a meteor.
posted by rory at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by R343L at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Atreides at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2012


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A curious fact is that Bradbury hated the idea of ebooks and held out until last year before granting the digital rights to Fahrenheit 451.
posted by mattbucher at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, wait no, he was not allowed to do this.
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


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posted by chillmost at 7:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by buffalo at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by theredpen at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2012


I can't find his recent New Yorker article online

Behind the paywall.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by mmrtnt at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2012


Sad news. Rarely has such a cranky-ass bastard written so many sweet, rich, brilliant, moving stories that changed so many people for the better.
posted by ardgedee at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


A magnificent writer; I like to think this was connected to the transit of Venus in some way.
posted by Renoroc at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


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posted by Badmichelle at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2012


This just randomly popped into my head about a week ago, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1IxOS4VzKM (Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury), an awkwardly fitting tribute.

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posted by mrzer0 at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've missed so many chances to see him speak in person, and always comforted myself by believing that if anyone could live forever, it was Ray Bradbury.

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posted by annathea at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2012


All Summer in a Day: 1, 2, 3
posted by jbickers at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by JamesD at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Boxenmacher at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2012


Bradbury was instrumental in creating my life-long love affair with science fiction. He was also the first big name author I ever when to see speak in person (Akron, OH in the early aughts). It was then that I realized (somewhat belatedly) that my favorite authors might hold some positions I didn't agree with, and soon after also realized that that was OK.

He also introduced me to my favorite quote from the Bible: "And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."

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posted by audi alteram partem at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


He might not be with us now, but I expect to see him again, along a highway.

Whether he'll be moving along in a truck or atop a giant grasshopper will be anyone's guess.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Rock Steady at 7:40 AM on June 6, 2012


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I think the sun's a flower
That blooms for just one hour.

posted by Iridic at 7:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This, a thousand times.
posted by h00py at 7:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by Zarkonnen at 7:41 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by djseafood at 7:41 AM on June 6, 2012


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His stories were all a bookish kid could have wished for.

I read Something Wicked This Way Comes when I was 12. I wasn't really a bookish kid before that, but it was the first book I read where I felt like the main characters could have been my friends. I understood them in a way that I had never understood any fictional character before. That was the book that turned me into a reader.
posted by mcmile at 7:41 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by taumeson at 7:42 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by b1tr0t at 7:42 AM on June 6, 2012


Two lines of Shakespeare said it. He should write them in the middle of the clock of books, to fix the heart of his apprehension:

By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.
posted by tkappleton at 7:42 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Ink-stained wretch at 7:44 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by pointystick at 7:44 AM on June 6, 2012


"I leave you now at the bottom of your own stair, at half after midnight, with a pad, a pen, and a list to be made."
-- from Zen in the Art of Writing
posted by gracedissolved at 7:44 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the growing dawn, the last few were embracing and crying and thinking how the world was becoming less a place for them. There had been a time when they had met every year, but now decades passed with no reconciliation. “Don’t forget,” someone cried, “we meet in Salem in 1970!”

Salem. Timothy’s numbed mind turned the words over. Salem, 1970. And there would be Uncle Fry and a thousand-times-great Grandmother in her withered cerements, and Mother and Father and Ellen and Laura and Cecy and all the rest. But would he be there? Could he be certain of staying alive until then?

With one last withering blast, away they all went, so many scarves, so many fluttery mammals, so many sere leaves, so many whining and clustering noises, so many midnights and insanities and dreams.

Mother shut the door. Laura picked up a broom. “No,” said Mother. “We’ll clean tonight. Now we need sleep.” And the Family vanished down cellar and upstairs. And Timothy moved in the crape-littered hall, his head down. Passing a party mirror, he saw the pale mortality of his face all cold and trembling.

“Timothy,” said Mother.

She came to touch her hand on his face. “Son,” she said, “We love you. Remember that. We all love you. No matter how different you are, no matter if you leave us one day.” She kissed his cheek. “And if and when you die, your bones will lie undisturbed, we’ll see to that. You’ll lie at ease forever, and I’ll come visit every Allhallows Eve and tuck you in the more secure.”

The house was silent. Far away the wind went over a hill with its last cargo of dark bats, echoing, chittering.

Timothy walked up the steps, one by one, crying to himself all the way.


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posted by fleetmouse at 7:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


I held out for many years, for some reason, before finally reading Fahrenheit 451 last month. And when I did, it was like magic. And I don't write too well, so I'll leave it at that. But, but, still.

Now I'm definitely going to hunt down his other books and read them till they fall to bits, I expect, but gosh, some part of me really wishes it didn't have to be this way. Dammit.
posted by undue influence at 7:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


the happiness machine
posted by roboton666 at 7:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by b33j at 7:47 AM on June 6, 2012


When we lose someone like this, I'm always glad for metafilter, where I know folks will get it.
posted by latkes at 7:48 AM on June 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


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posted by Tsuga at 7:53 AM on June 6, 2012


There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone. -- Sara Teasdale


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posted by Halloween Jack at 7:53 AM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


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Dandelion Wine is my favorite. Also, I recently read this story Bradbury told about his career in writing which is really wonderful.
posted by bluefly at 7:54 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


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Goddamn it. His stories are a big part of why I read and write and think the way I do.

I'm not generally a religious guy, but if reincarnation is a thing, I hope Ray ends up tramping down some Martian canyons in his next life.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:54 AM on June 6, 2012


I burned through as many of his short-story anthologies as the little library in Queens had, one summer. I must've been about 11. I'd read some sci-fi, but this was different. Great, atmospheric writing that entertained and held me through those hot days.

Thank you.

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posted by the sobsister at 7:54 AM on June 6, 2012


"What has this man from Illinois done, I ask myself when closing the pages of his book, that episodes from the conquest of another planet fill me with horror and loneliness?

"How can these fantasies touch me, and in such an intimate way? All literature (I dare reply) is symbolic; there are a few fundamental experiences and it is indifferent that a writer, to transmit them, recurs to the fantastic or the real, to Macbeth or to Rascolnikov, to the Belgium invasion in August 1914 or to an invasion of Mars. Who cares about the novel, or novelry of science fiction? In this book of ghostly appearance, Bradbury has placed his long empty Sundays, his American tedium, his loneliness, like Sinclair Lewis did on Main Street..."

-J.L. Borges, preface to a Spanish translation of The Martian Chronicles
posted by Iridic at 7:55 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


How terribly sad this has made me. I used to love going to book signings - I remember when I lived in SD the newspaper had a book section on Thursdays, and I would leap on that first, every time. When I heard Ray Bradbury was going to be at a local bookstore back in '98 I was over the moon. I still have the signed copy of Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines - although Fahrenheit was my favorite. Hearing him that day, speaking of writing, and writing, and writing, and how anyone who wants to be a writer must first start by...well, WRITING - that's the one memory of all those book signings I held onto. Indeed, his is the only book I held onto from those years of haunting signings.

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
posted by routergirl at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Astronauts retire
Paper blackens and crumbles
Stories live forever
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by tommasz at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by cmfletcher at 7:57 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by dosterm at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2012


When I was 14, I went on vacation with my parents and sister and (maternal) grandparents. We went to Orlando and then to Marco Island, where we rented a house with a pool. (This was, not coincidentally, where I finally figured out how to use a tampon. It took me a whole box.) The house had four bedrooms, so I had my own room in the basement. With one of those beds that you could make go up or down, but my mother and sister hid the remote, so I didn't know about this until the last night there.

But the best thing this room had was a book of every single Ray Bradbury short story (it was a bit before we were to read Fahrenheit 421 in school, maybe it was later that year or the next year). It was this huge heavy hardcover beast and it was the only book in the room, or possibly in the house. And that is what I read all that week when we were home, and that is when I started to read science fiction.

Thank you, Ray Bradbury, for such an excellent introduction to the field and such a memorable vacation.
posted by jeather at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Lizc at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2012


Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.
posted by penduluum at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2012


I was hoping he would make it to August 5, 2026.

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posted by emelenjr at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by koucha at 8:00 AM on June 6, 2012


I'm reminded of the NYT obituary for George Gershwin. "George Gershwin died yesterday, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:00 AM on June 6, 2012 [16 favorites]


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posted by teleri025 at 8:03 AM on June 6, 2012


• Just... well, darn it.
posted by bz at 8:03 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by DreamerFi at 8:03 AM on June 6, 2012


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A genius.
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posted by joe lisboa at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2012


Wait, the dead butterfly thing was Bradbury's?
Damn.

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posted by SLC Mom at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Xoebe at 8:05 AM on June 6, 2012


He opened the gate to the world of science fiction for me, as I'm sure he did for many. His words spent hour after hour in my young head. The first song I ever wrote was a trite number called "The Illustrated Man", a terrible Ride the Lightening-era Metallica ripoff that sounded awesome to my 13-year-old ears.

He was one of the monumental greats and, even though his works are widely known and loved, he needs to be better known and better loved. Hopefully he's on Mars now, with his skin slowly being bleached by a neverending rain.
posted by item at 8:05 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Sam Ryan at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2012


Damn. All I seem to do these days is comment in threads where people whose work I love keep dying. Anyway, anyone who hasn't read The Small Assassin should do so now. It's just about the most creepy and disturbing and brilliant thing of his.
posted by Len at 8:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by antonymous at 8:08 AM on June 6, 2012


It looks like the New Yorker has removed the paywall for his recent article, Take Me Home. It's very apropos.
posted by zamboni at 8:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


When I was 11 I had a motorbike, I used to ride the dirt trails to the edge of town, stash the bike and walk down to the library. One summer day the librarian suggested an author I hadn't heard of, gave me three of his books and told me I would probably want more.

I sped off with my new books, rode to my secret reading nook out in an abandoned farmhouse in the countryside and cracked open "The Illustrated Man".

I think nearly all the authors that mattered to me as a teenager came as a result of that day.

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posted by Cosine at 8:10 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by One Thousand and One at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2012


Because of him the first time I got to drink dandelion wine I memorized the taste as best I could. It did taste of summer.

I remember reading the Martian Chronicles and being blown away by it. It took me years to realize it, but Ray Bradbury was a scifi writer second. Primarily, at least in his earlier stories, in Dandelion Wine, in Something Wicked This Way Comes, he was a magical realist. No one noticed because he was writing science fiction and who pays attention to that.

This hit me like a brick. I know he wrote some of the creepiest stories ever- Night Call Collect still bothers me on a level I can't explain. But his magic is what I'll remember and what I'll miss.
posted by Hactar at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by newdaddy at 8:12 AM on June 6, 2012


The first Ray Bradbury story I read was The Earth Men, which I found in a science fiction anthology in my school library when I was eleven. It's still one of my favorite short stories.

That night it rained all night. The next day was fair and warm.
posted by martinrebas at 8:13 AM on June 6, 2012


He lived in the same neighborhood [Cheviot Hills] as several of my friends when we were growing up. I always remember being there and [we all] noting that he had taken the Christmas tree to the curb. As in "Hey!," my friend remarked, "Ray Bradbury took his Christmas tree to the curb yesterday" like it was big news. And we thought it was, although I'm not sure why. It's LA and plenty of us had connections to "famous people" that most kids in my cohort would care much more about. Even other popular book writers. And yet, the location and condition of Mr. Bradbury's Christmas tree was awesome gossip for us. That and the not driving thing. To kids growing up in LA, that was unfathomable.
posted by atomicstone at 8:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Farewell, Ray.
posted by jazon at 8:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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My husband and I had a conversation the other day about futurists, and how there were two generations of true futurists born and forged in the World Wars and Cold War. Of course, Bradbury came to mind when I was trying to explain the two generations and their differences. We both knew true futurists like him were a dying breed; so many were already gone, but this just punches me in the gut.
posted by strixus at 8:16 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by HumanComplex at 8:16 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Wemmick at 8:17 AM on June 6, 2012


I read Fahrenheit 451 on my own before school made me, and loved it. The Sound of Thunder was probably the only short story that I enjoyed during high school. I tried The Martian Chronicles but found I didn't know enough about America in the 1950s to understand it. I am still scared by Fahrenheit 451 and the growing similarity of the world to his vision.
Rest in peace Mr. Bradbury.

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posted by Canageek at 8:18 AM on June 6, 2012


:( :( :(

just… :(

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posted by Omon Ra at 8:18 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by cass at 8:19 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Arethusa at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2012


I just passed this news on to my brother. His first response, understandably, was "Fuck."

And then he said "You know, I've meant to send him a letter for 20-something years. I'm a dunce. I thought about it again a week ago."

So. We're each choosing an author we've been meaning to write a letter to for a long time and doing it today. Because who knows about tomorrow?

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posted by davidjmcgee at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh, no. Oh, no. We'll miss him.

A long time back, she thought, I dreamed a dream, and was enjoying it so much when someone wakened me, and that day I was born. And now? Now, let me see...She cast her mind back. Where was I? she thought. Ninety years...how to take up the thread and the pattern of that lost dream again? She put out a small hand. There...yes, that was it. She smiled. Deeper in the warm snow hill she turned her head upon her pillow. That was better. Now, yes, now she saw it shaping in her mind quietly, and with a serenity like a sea moving along an endless and self-refreshing shore. Now she let the old dream touch and lift her from the snow and drift her above the scarce-remembered bed.
― Hands, Dandelion Wine
Goodbye, Ray. Thank you.
posted by likeso at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have not aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living forever; that someday I shall die the real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced of my mortality."

Edgar Rice Burroughs was Bradbury's favorite author. That first paragraph from A Princess of Mars seems apropos somehow.

I will wait to wince at how clumsily the TV and cable news handle the news of the passing of such a giant as was Bradbury.
posted by blucevalo at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2012


When I was young there were three writers greater than all the rest: Asimov, Anderson and Bradbury. Now they're all gone. Truly, the best people in this world are dead.

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posted by Kevin Street at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or does it feel a bit like October all of a sudden?
posted by mmrtnt at 8:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by Diagonalize at 8:23 AM on June 6, 2012


Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

-- W.B. Yeats, "The Song of Wandering Aengus"


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posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:25 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damn it.

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It comes for us all, I hope it brought him peace.
posted by jadepearl at 8:25 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This news has put an ache in my heart like no 'famous death' has before. Bradbury's works shaped my childhood - from an age of about 11 or so on, first laying my hands on this arcane work of chilling truths, the yellowing paper smelling like October leafs and wind, a hint of smoke. From that chilling entry, I devoured his works, the voice of summer, the exact thoughts of childhood. I loved the abstracted sci-fi of some stories, the unnerving psychology of others, but what always clung to my imagination was his exact rendering of youth trying to understand the world. Stories that predated my entry by decades, but capturing my own thoughts exactly. And finally, this..

“Why love the boy in a March field with his kite braving the sky? Because our fingers burn with the hot string singeing our hands. Why love some girl viewed from a train bent to a country well? The tongue remembers iron water cool on some long lost noon. Why weep at strangers dead by the road? They resemble friends unseen in forty years. Why laugh when clowns are hit by pies? We taste custard - we taste life. Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking. Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain. Shared and once again shared experience. Billions of prickling textures. Cut one sense away, cut part of life away. Cut two senses; life halves itself on the instant. We love what we know, we love what we are. Common cause, common cause, common cause of mouth, eye, ear, tongue, hand, nose, flesh, heart, and soul.”
― Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
posted by FatherDagon at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damn. Damn. Damn. Fucking goddam.

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Damn damn damn.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012


"We loved the rockets more."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the first book of his I read was The October Country short story collection, when I was perhaps 10 or 11... Or at least, that was the first Bradbury I owned rather than devoured from the library, and I still have that same copy stashed away, a coverless, battered paperback with little dots in the table of contents next to the titles of the stories I liked best. So dark! So wondrous! If you haven't read it, I recommend you stop whatever you're doing right now and go get it.

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posted by theatro at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


What has this man from Illinois done, I ask myself when closing the pages of his book, that episodes from the conquest of another planet fill me with horror and loneliness?

How can these fantasies touch me, and in such an intimate way? All literature (I dare reply) is symbolic; there are a few fundamental experiences and it is indifferent that a writer, to transmit them, recurs to the fantastic or the real, to Macbeth or to Rascolnikov, to the Belgium invasion in August 1914 or to an invasion of Mars. Who cares about the novel, or novelry of science fiction? In this book of ghostly appearance, Bradbury has placed his long empty Sundays, his American tedium, his loneliness, like Sinclair Lewis did on Main Street.

Jorge Luis Borges, writing about The Martian Chronicles
posted by Omon Ra at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by tykky at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by rahnefan at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012


I didn't read all the comments but I really want to read what Stephen King is going to (may be going to) say in tribute. Hasn't he talked about Ray Bradbury extensively in the past? RIP.
posted by bquarters at 8:29 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a sci-fi gobbling kid I had heard of Sturgeon's Law but was ready to revise it from 90% to 100%. Looking at the racks and racks of lurid paperbacks in the store (and the shelves and shelves of 'em in my room) I thought "Come on, Ted, this stuff is all mind-wasting unkjay. Sure I love it, but I love it the way I love Doritos and Coke."

A collection of Bradbury's short stories was the first sci-fi thing I ever stumbled on that was clearly and unmistakably over in the not-shit partition. I had to mentally apologize to Sturgeon. Sorry, Ted, you were right, It may not be exactly 90/10, but it's not 100/0 either.

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posted by jfuller at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Blackanvil at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by valdesm at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2012


There will come soft rains...



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posted by louche mustachio at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by bardophile at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2012


One of my favorite Bradbury quotes was an interviewer was in Ray's home, and when he saw Ray's library asked, "Have you read all of these books?" Bradbury replies, "What good would a library of read books be?"
posted by cjorgensen at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2012 [16 favorites]


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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:33 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by jiroczech at 8:34 AM on June 6, 2012


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It's like losing a piece of my teenage years. I don't remember much about the actual details of Bradbury's stories, but I certainly can remember the way that they made me feel.

I was just reading his New Yorker article last night. I hope that they let it out of the paywall. It made me remember the way that he can evoke language to create a feeling.

I also remember hearing a few years ago that Bradbury always had Fox News on in the background. I started to get a little bit disappointed (you always want your literary heroes to agree with you, right?) and then I realized that nothing could make me like his work less. This was also a part of growing up in my 20's - realizing that people you disagree with can still be appreciated and shouldn't be written off completely.
posted by montag2k at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Avenger at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by jgaiser at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Brian Puccio at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012


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“A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.” - Dandelion Wine

I think right now I need all three-
posted by redheadedstepchild at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by zoo at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by spinifex23 at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by ourobouros at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2012


🚀
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by epilnivek at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2012


I was never a huge fan of Bradbury's stuff apart from Fahrenheit 451--his style never really clicked with me, I guess, and I was more of an Asimov fan as a kid--but I absolutely can't deny his massive influence, and not just on science fiction.

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posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:39 AM on June 6, 2012


I remember reading his stories when I was a kid. They are so deep in my soul.

My six year old son loves to read, and I'm so excited about sharing Ray Bradbury's stories with him.

Godspeed good soul.

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posted by alms at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not an unexpected loss, yet I am deeply saddened. His writing spoke to me in a way other authors have yet to match. He was an artist with words.

"And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again..." - Fahrenheit 451

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away." - Fahrenheit 451

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posted by geeky at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Deadmau5 recently released a song based on The Veldt.
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2012



I also remember hearing a few years ago that Bradbury always had Fox News on in the background. I started to get a little bit disappointed (you always want your literary heroes to agree with you, right?) and then I realized that nothing could make me like his work less. This was also a part of growing up in my 20's - realizing that people you disagree with can still be appreciated and shouldn't be written off completely.
posted by montag2k at 8:35 AM on June 6 [+] [!]


He was a conservative old coot and kept saying things that raised my hackles, but his fiction had so much heart and force that I couldn't help but love it. That's art and humanity transcending politics.

Not many authors could evoke sense and emotion like he could. Beautiful stuff, something to aspire to for everyone in the world that tries to hack worlds together.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2012


(On a side note, I think it's fabulously fitting that the space shuttle Enterprise is making its final journey up New York Harbor right now, on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.)
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I heard Bradbury speak once, many years ago. He gave a talk at Hopkins, I think. I remember a story he told about a friend he had when he was a teenager, a neighborhood kid whose name, coincidentally, was also Ray. The two Rays loved science fiction and movies, and they made their own movies in the other kid's garage. Bradbury wrote the scripts, and his friend did all the cinematography and was able to do some amazing things with little toy dinosaurs and such.

The other Ray's last name was Harryhausen.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:45 AM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


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posted by tuesdayschild at 8:45 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by haplesschild at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Shadan7 at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2012


Sometimes there is a dude...
posted by edgeways at 8:47 AM on June 6, 2012


"I've always wanted to see a Martian," said Michael. "Where are they, Dad? You promised."
"There they are," said Dad, and he shifted Michael on his shoulder and pointed straight down.
The Martians were there. Timothy began to shiver.
The Martians were there--in the canal--reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad.
The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water. . . .

Ray Bradbury, "The Million-Year Picnic," THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES
Similar to this, when the first few Martian probes landed on Mars -- I can't remember whether it was the rovers or anything earlier -- some reporter asked Ray Bradbury for his opinion, and whether he was disappointed to learn that there wasn't any life on Mars after all. "Well, of course there is," Bradbury retorted. "It's us."


...This was the man that introduced a kid in a deprived Connecticut town with an even more deprived Junior High library to sci-fi and fantasy. That kid has recently grown up to realize that she's slacked off on the advice you gave her to "write every day," and fortunately, just yesterday, before you died, she decided it was high time to re-devote herself to that aim.

Thank you, sir.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:48 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by reductiondesign at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by DigDoug at 8:51 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:52 AM on June 6, 2012


"You don't want to live for­ever, do you? That's what would happen if you let me die."

"You're raving."

"Do you dare believe I am raving? Can you take that chance? If I die, all of you would be immortal. That's what man's always wanted, isn't it? To live forever. But I tell you, it would be insanity, one day like another, and think of the immense burden of memory! Think! Consider."

The doctor stood across the room with his back to the wall, in shadow.

Mr. Pale whispered, "Better take me up on this. Better die when you have the chance than live on for a million billion years. Believe me. I know. I'm almost glad to die. Almost, but not quite. Self-preservation. Well?"

The doctor was at the door. "I don't believe you."

"Don't go," murmured Mr. Pale. "You'll regret it."

"You're lying."

"Don't let me die ..." The voice was so far away now, the lips barely moved. "Please don't let me die. You need me. All life needs me to make life worthwhile, to give it value, to give it contrast. Don't..."

Mr. Pale was thinner and smaller and now the flesh seemed to melt faster. "No," he sighed. "No . . ." said the wind behind the hard yellowed teeth. "Please ..." The deep-socketed eyes fixed themselves in a stare at the ceil­ing.

The doctor crashed out the door and slammed it and bolted it tight. He lay against it, weeping again, and through the ship he could see the people standing in groups staring back at the empty space where Earth had been. He heard curs­ing and wailing. He walked unsteadily and in great unreality for an hour through the ship's corridors until he reached the captain.

"Captain, no one is to enter that room where the dying man is. He has a plague. Incurable. Quite insane. He'll be dead within the hour. Have the room welded shut."

"What?" said the captain. "Oh, yes, yes. I'll attend to it. I will. Did you see? See Earth go?"

"I saw it."

They walked numbly away from each other. The doctor sat down beside his wife who did not recognize him for a moment until he put his arm around her.

"Don't cry," he said. "Don't cry. Please don't cry."

Her shoulders shook. He held her very tightly, his eyes clenched in on the trembling in his own body. They sat this way for several hours.

"Don't cry," he said. "Think of something else. Forget Earth. Think about Mars, think about the future."

posted by Rhaomi at 8:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing a interview with Bradbury (I wish I could find it on the web), where he talked about people recognizing him on the streets in L.A. and telling him what big fans they were of his work — I, Robot, or the Foundation series in particular— and he would be just as gracious as could be and thank them (doing his best Asimov impression), and even sign autographs for them if they asked.
posted by steef at 8:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by Harald74 at 8:57 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by th3ph17 at 8:58 AM on June 6, 2012


Somewhere, a book said once, all the talk ever talked, all the songs ever sung, still lived, had vibrated way out in space and if you could travel to Far Centauri you could hear George Washington talking in his sleep or Caesar surprised at the knife in his back. So much for sounds. What about light then? All things, once seen, they didn't just die, that couldn't be. It must be then that somewhere, searching the world, perhaps in the dropping multiboxed honeycombs where light was an amber sap stored by pollen-fired bees, or in the thirty thousand lenses of the noon dragonfly's gemmed skull you might find all the colors and sights of the world in any one year. Or pour one single drop of this dandelion wine beneath a microscope and perhaps the entire world of July Fourth would firework out in Vesuvius showers. This he would have to believe.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 8:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by lalochezia at 8:59 AM on June 6, 2012


Sad news.
posted by Elmore at 9:00 AM on June 6, 2012


I am heartbroken.

I read The Martian Chronicles when I was 8 or so...I remember the librarian looking at me funny and asking if maybe I thought that might be a little over my head. Another librarian - the Children's Librarian, funnily enough - said "No, not Missy. She eats books whole." And I did. I was back in two days, looking for more, and eventually gobbled up every Bradbury book my library owned.

I am so grateful that he was among those who not only suffered from the writing compulsion, but chose to share the results of it with the rest of us.

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posted by MissySedai at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2012


I read the shit out of his books and short stories when I was a teenager. I particularly like The October Country.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by kengraham at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by gen at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2012


"The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time . . . Time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!" (Fahrenheit 451, where people memorized books that were being burned so that they would be saved forever.)
posted by Lynsey at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by hat_eater at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by piyushnz at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by theartandsound at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by mhoye at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2012


I would rent out my own soul for a month if I could somehow know what Ray Bradbury's final thought before death was. Something profound and poetic, I hope, but it's one thought he didn't have time to write down for the rest of us.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by ChrisR at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2012



posted by nickyskye at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Lilacs on a bush are better than orchids. And dandelions and devil grass are better! Why? Because they bend you over and turn you away from all the people in the town for a little while and sweat you and get you down where you remember you got a nose again. And when you’re all to yourself that way, you’re really proud of yourself for a little while; you get to thinking things through, alone. Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is kin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder."


My grandfather's Dandelion Wine recipe:

(1) All containers must be sterlized before use

(2) Pick dandelions (only the yellow blossom is used--not the stems or leaves) and wash several times. The blossoms must be very clean. Make sure all the other parts of the flower are removed.

(3) Place dandelions in a crock and pour boiling water over them. Let stand 3 days and then strain off the flowers, saving the juice.

(4) Put juice into washed container and add 1 pkg yeast (follow directions on package to dissolve).

(5) Stir with plastic spoon each day at least twice, more if possible. Replace cover on top of container each time you stir. Taste and add sugar each day if needed.

(6) After 7 days strain off and bottle using sterlized bottle and corks. Watch closely and test after 3 months. Should be ready to drink in 6 months to a year (minimum).


Mom would add some lemon peel when she made it.

I've made some of my granddad's wine recipes, but never the dandelion wine. Didn't want to go out dandelion-picking. That will change this summer.

RIP, Ray. Mom and Granddad agreed with you about gardening.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:13 AM on June 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


A Bradbury story always worth repeating: In the 1950's, EC Comics plagiarized a couple of Bradbury stories for one of their comic books. The Haunted Closet Blog tells it better and more succinctly that I could:

Rather than send them a threatening letter on attorney letterhead, Bradbury wrote them a friendly (but firm) letter requesting proper royalty payment (fifty bucks!) and an invitation to contact him about adapting his other short stories. Bradbury, as it turns out, was an unapologetic E.C. comics fan, at a time when comic books carried the stigma of being trashy, low-brow entertainment.

Gaines was flattered that a successful author like Bradbury was not only an E.C. reader, but eager to have his work adapted in comic form, and the legendary partnership began.


Above link also contains the EC story "The Black Ferris" adapted from a Bradbury story. RIP Mr. Bradbury, thanks for all the dreams and nightmares.
posted by marxchivist at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am reminded of his description of the firemen at the beginning of Fahrenheit 451 running through the house, and Bradbury describing them as being like young boys, "all rollick and shout".

That description (ironic given the job of the firemen) is how I so often felt reading the works of Mr. Bradbury: full of joy. He was a master story teller, and few could write of 'boyhood' more completely or convincingly.

Thank you for your gifts Ray. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Alterscape at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2012


Local obit from his native Waukeegan Illinois.

Fahrenheit 451 is the book I recommend fervently to people who don't read. It's my favorite book of all time, and it's the reason I've been a lifelong reader (and sometimes writer), not just of Science Fiction, but of all genres and mediums.

Love you, Ray.

You left such beautiful things behind.
posted by d1rge at 9:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


instant tears.


posted by batmonkey at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by ElGuapo at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2012


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Among the reasons I love this man:

"I trust my subconscious implicitly. It is my good pet. I try to keep it well fed with information through all my senses, but never look directly at it. If I did, it would refuse to do its creative tricks for me." In a response letter to a sixteen year old student who tried to get famous writers to do his homework for him.

"A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a high flame." On his various influences.
posted by AceRock at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2012


actually Ray, don't rest in peace. Come back and haunt the world in a hundred years, just like Lantry in Pillar of Fire.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2012


Good-bye, Ray. You enhanced my life immeasurably, and I'm glad I got to tell you about it.
posted by Rash at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2012


Ray Bradbury was one of the authors I obsessed over in my teen years -- when I went to used book stores, I would look first for any new books or collections that might have new stories for me.
posted by curse at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2012


Thank you, Mr. Bradbury, for giving me glimpses of what might be, what should be, what we must avoid at all costs. Thank you for giving a lonely bookish girl a way to escape an unimaginative small southern town, at least for a little while.



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posted by shiu mai baby at 9:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Always the first person I think of when it is said that artists can be a direct conduit to the divine.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:24 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Jilder at 9:25 AM on June 6, 2012


One of my favorite authors. .
posted by banished at 9:26 AM on June 6, 2012


I remember tearing through a ton of Sci-fi novels and short story collections when I was 12 and 13, mostly stuff like Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Van Vogt, Clement and Bradbury's stuff was just so much different than the other guys. At first, being a geeky and literalist teen, I was thrown by the fact that he didn't seem to care much about the science or engineering and never really had much action going in in the plots. Later I realized how much better a writer he was than most other sci-fi authors and the fact that he didn't write like an engineer was a good thing.
posted by octothorpe at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a great writer. It's kind of a shame that as he got older, her started to vehemently deny that Fahrenheit 451 about censorship, as he had said before but about television, specifically saying the television dumbed down an informed populace with factoids, while Fox News droned on a television behind him.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


His stories really meant a lot to me when I was a teenager, and they still do. They nurtured a lifelong love of reading and creativity. Thanks for everything, Mr. Bradbury.
posted by Shoggoth at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2012


Can anyone tell me the source of "You must write every day of your life..."? The Google Force is not-strong in me today, and Wikiquote—inexplicably—does not have a listing for Ray Bradbury.
posted by the sobsister at 9:28 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by koinonia at 9:29 AM on June 6, 2012


There will come soft rains

I remember the dawning horror or shadows scorched on walls, the inescapable need to run with old friends, even towards uncertain strangeness, a smile :) on a wax bullet, and the hidden archives kept in wandering people; awaiting a time when those ancient forbidden scripts could be released to others' eyes.

For all the accomplishments of mankind to be erased by their own pratfalls.

And, finally, a television series, whose opening revealed a study I wanted to work in; cluttered with hints and hooks, mirrored echoes into stories I hadn't heard of, let alone read.

Time to open up some old favourites.
posted by LD Feral at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by annsunny at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2012


Ray Bradbury personified the transition from the science fiction I read as a kid to the more adult fiction that I enjoyed as a teenager and still enjoy today.

Godspeed Mr. Bradbury.

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posted by Sphinx at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2012


I went to a small school. Throughout elementary, our wee Gifted and Talented Reading Group had all the same members, and the same two teachers. When we got to ninth grade, we had a new teacher- both new to us, and new to teaching. He told us point blank that we made him feel like an outcast. There was much friction. For most of us, English was our favorite subject and this new guy was ruining it. In October, he assigned us Fahrenheit 451. I took it to the lake, and sat down to read. Before I cracked it, a jolly, unknown, older girl sat down next to me- unusual, at that place and time; that spot was where I went to be alone.

"That's a great book," she said.
"It's for school."
"Well, then you have a great teacher."
"Hrm, I dunno..." and I told her the whole story.

She told me about her bad English teacher, who made fun of her German name and called her Eva Braun on the first day. How she raged at him that her grandfather had survived Dachau. And then we had one of the great conversations of my life, that I remember so clearly even though I never saw her again and it was 20 years ago. She was a grad student, and told me that I was at least as smart as the average person in her program, and I remember that feeling so important and special to me when I was 14.

And when she left, I opened my book, and read until dusk, and by the time it got dark I was shivering with cold and realized, wow, this is a really great book. I went home and called my best friend and my boyfriend and they were knee deep in it, too, and we were all in agreement that not only was this book fantastic, but that our teacher couldn't be a total clod if he assigned it.

Fahrenheit 451 healed our English class. Everyone loved it, we had a fun and highly educational unit on it, and went on to have a really good year. That teacher became our class adviser and spoke at our commencement.

I've read lots of his other work, but when I think of Ray Bradbury, this is what comes to mind first- just pure, sweet things. What he gave me has no downside, which, when we are talking about our teen years, or about personal growth, is a rarity, much less both those things together.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Bradbury.
posted by Athene at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


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posted by IvoShandor at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2012


Ray Bradbury was one of the defining authors of my youth. He helped define my imagination and my love of reading, he opened up my eyes and mind to things beyond the mundane life I lived in the midwest.

My son met Mr. Bradbury and found him to be a delightful, charming, and interesting person, I still envy that opportunity.

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posted by HuronBob at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm reposting this from Charles Vess:

"This news was like a large blow to my chest.

I met him once at SDCC and consider myself blessed.

I was working my booth. Karen was beside me. An elderly, white haired man was rolled up in a wheel chair. He asked if the art work on display (A Circle of Cats) was from a book. "Certainly I said and here is a copy for sale." Just when it was beginning to dawn on me that this was Ray Bradbury, Karen's elbow dug into my side. We were both beaming when we gifted him with the book and were able to tell him how very much his work meant to us both. His smile in answer was a special gift.

I'm tearing up as I write this so I'm going back to my drawing board now and try to live up the dreams he showed me were possible.

He will be missed."
posted by markkraft at 9:36 AM on June 6, 2012


What a great writer. It's kind of a shame that as he got older, her started to vehemently deny that Fahrenheit 451 about censorship, as he had said before but about television, specifically saying the television dumbed down an informed populace with factoids, while Fox News droned on a television behind him.

That really is a shame. It's also a shame that Fahrenheit 451 is now a banned book in many schools in the U.S. I guess the irony just goes right over those school administrators' heads. At any rate, I shall think of Mr. Bradbury while I'm seeing Prometheus this weekend.

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posted by fuse theorem at 9:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I met Ray Bradbury at the Los Angeles Festival of Books a few years ago and he was incredibly gracious. Good writer, good man.

I bought the Science Fiction edition of the New Yorker yesterday and I think his piece will have a special resonance for me when I read it tonight.

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posted by chatongriffes at 9:38 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by jquinby at 9:38 AM on June 6, 2012


Skipping all the comments down to say this:

As an English teacher, Fahrenheit 451 was one of the first books I really truly enjoyed teaching, at one school to the 9th graders, at the next to the 10th grade. And every time I read it, I found something new - some new beautiful image or repeated motif or intricately woven theme about life and human nature.

I LOVED teaching Fahrenheit, and my students quickly caught my enthusiasm. There are many students of mine who claimed English as one of their favorite classes who owe Mr. Bradbury a debt of gratitude for giving me something I could teach the hell out of.

This year was the first time in five years that my teaching assignments didn't permit me to teach Fahrenheit 451. I know there's no significance in coincidence, but as an English teacher, it's my job to find meaning, and somehow it's all the sadder that I wasn't able to see the cranky old man off one last time.

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posted by mdaugherty82 at 9:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Anitanola at 9:40 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Lutoslawski at 9:41 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by brundlefly at 9:42 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by helion at 9:43 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by brand-gnu at 9:45 AM on June 6, 2012


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Read every word he ever published, but Dandelion Wine was my favorite also, and well worth an adult re-read. A beautiful, elegaic novel that's almost entirely realistic.
posted by Miko at 9:48 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by tetsuo at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by pahalial at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by FireSpy at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by suetanvil at 9:52 AM on June 6, 2012


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This is what he wrote about my grandfather's bookstore in Yestermorrow:

The Pickwick Bookshop, true center of Hollywood for most of us, is wall-to-wall people every night but Sunday....
posted by brujita at 9:52 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was in New Orleans at a conference, and happened across a bookstore. It used to be William Faulkner's house. I went inside. I browsed. I found a copy of Fahrenheit 451, an anniversary copy, with rough-cut pages and a new forward by Bradbury.

I love finding a new bookstore. I love buying a nice copy of a book I already love (or of one I just know will be treasured). I had to buy this one. I'd read it before, and I loved the story. It's still one of my favorite books.

Godspeed, Mr. Bradbury.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:55 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by lordrunningclam at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2012


Mr. Electrico owes him a refund.

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posted by dr_dank at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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Thank you for my imagination.
posted by oneironaut at 9:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Have you read all of these books?"
Bradbury replies, "What good would a library of read books be?"


That's good.

I don't believe I've read anything more recent than 1970, but it's interesting how, no matter how many rockets, aliens, or electric grandmothers are in the tale, it's still basically white-picket-fence small town America, c. 1949 or thereabouts.


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posted by Herodios at 10:01 AM on June 6, 2012


In 8th grade we did a project where everyone wrote a letter to someone famous. Some people picked athletes, or musicians, or scientists, but having just finished reading Fahrenheit 451 for class I decided to write to Ray Bradbury. The response came quickly, and I was over the moon. That letter was by far the most popular of the projects that year.

I continued writing to him, to ask questions about his stories or other authors I was reading. Sometimes the responses came in a week, other times a few months, but they always came, typed on his typewriter and signed in blue ink. Sometimes his answers made perfect sense and cleared up any additional questions, sometimes I thought he couldn't be more wrong, and I figured out that your interpretation of a work didn't have to be the same as someone else's. Those 10 or so letters I received were a crash course in literature that prepared me for the English classes I took in high school.
posted by edeezy at 10:05 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


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posted by asfuller at 10:08 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by griffey at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by SageLeVoid at 10:14 AM on June 6, 2012


A lovely written-letter exchange between Ray and a fan, posted on his official message board today.
posted by jbickers at 10:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I made fried green tomatoes and liver according to what I thought The Electric Grandmother's recipe would have been. Turned out so delicious that even finicky kids like it!
Fell in love with his work. My grown kids got treated to it as bed/time stories. I thought they needed to hear some real books, by a real writer. I will miss him.

°
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:16 AM on June 6, 2012


It's hard to grasp how influential his words and tales were for me.
Oddly enough, I recently heard what I think is the best memorial for him out of that song/word tour Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer did, where Neil read "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury". It's absolutely beautiful. And now, it's more so than ever. And yet, I can't find it on Youtube or anywhere else where I might share it.

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posted by CrystalDave at 10:16 AM on June 6, 2012


Aww. Too bad he became a total crank in his dotage, but I still remember the first time I read Martian Chronicles.
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2012


when the first few Martian probes landed on Mars -- I can't remember whether it was the rovers or anything earlier -- some reporter asked Ray Bradbury for his opinion, and whether he was disappointed to learn that there wasn't any life on Mars after all.

When I asked him about the Viking photos he said his Martians were there, they were just hiding.
posted by Rash at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by a3matrix at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by karmiolz at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by faineant at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2012


Didn't see it directly posted while scrolling through (apologies if it has been), but here's "There Will Come Soft Rains", my favorite Bradbury.
posted by educatedslacker at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by maryrussell at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Deathalicious at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Token Meme at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by fitnr at 10:29 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Nickel Pickle at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by rgropp at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by postcommunism at 10:34 AM on June 6, 2012


Many years ago I had the privilege of working on several of his books. One day he visited our offices. All of us worker bees gathered to pay homage in the conference room, and he stood up, collected himself, and told an absolutely filthy sexist joke. Some of the female muckety mucks -- women who inspired absolute terror in the rest of us on a daily basis -- walked out and refused to ever attend a meeting at which he was present again. I don't remember the joke exactly, only that it was the most electric wielding of personal power I had ever witnessed, if not in the greatest taste.
posted by apparently at 10:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by Spiegel at 10:42 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Gelatin at 10:43 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by trixare4kids at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:52 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by gusandrews at 10:53 AM on June 6, 2012


I want to say so much about his writing and impact, but today I have no words.

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posted by never used baby shoes at 10:54 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Strange Interlude at 10:54 AM on June 6, 2012


Thanks for the stories, Ray.

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posted by sc114 at 10:56 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by namewithhe1d at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by bjgeiger at 11:00 AM on June 6, 2012


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CrystalDave: "Oddly enough, I recently heard what I think is the best memorial for him out of that song/word tour Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer did, where Neil read "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury". It's absolutely beautiful. And now, it's more so than ever. And yet, I can't find it on Youtube or anywhere else where I might share it."

Seconding this. You can find it in this recently-released book. Also, Neil Gaiman says in his twitter feed: "Yesterday I recorded ' the man who forgot Ray Bradbury'. Rest in peace, Ray. We won't ever forget.". So maybe we'll see a downloadable version of it somewhere soon. Highly recommended.
posted by archagon at 11:01 AM on June 6, 2012


My favorite Bradbury book. Although not the cover I'm familiar with - the one I had was once my father's, and I have no idea when that copy was published. The art was a kind of pastiche of images form the various stories contained within. Heavy black lines, and lots of brown/red/orange if I recall correctly.

I read that book so many times the cover eventually came off and the binding fell to pieces.

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posted by owtytrof at 11:06 AM on June 6, 2012


Sadly, I've never read much Bradbury. Perhaps now would be a fitting time to fix this. What would you recommend as some of his better books and short stories (aside from Fahrenheit 451)?
posted by archagon at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2012


Shit. He was probably the first Sci-Fi writer that I really loved, despite his works being forced down my throat in grade school.

Also .
posted by Slackermagee at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by twidget at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:11 AM on June 6, 2012


Sadly, my strongest memory of Ray Bradbury's writing was his less-than-successful (in all ways) mid-80s attempt at a 'noir mystery', "Death Is A Lonely Business", whose secondary theme about the life of a writer came at a perfect time to discourage me from writing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:14 AM on June 6, 2012


My first encounter with Bradbury was an excerpt from "Dandelion Wine" I read in seventh grade. It was published in an English textbook I'm assuming was rated for our grade level. It was a short piece about an old woman dying. I was utterly astonished by his use of the English language to tell a story so economically and with such beauty.
posted by TDavis at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2012


His short story, The Pedestrian (PDF). Talk about timely...
posted by dbiedny at 11:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


His stories started my love affair with science fiction. He also wrote my all-time favorite short story, "The Picasso Summer."
posted by cherrybounce at 11:28 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although not the cover I'm familiar with - the one I had was once my father's, and I have no idea when that copy was published. The art was a kind of pastiche of images form the various stories contained within. Heavy black lines, and lots of brown/red/orange if I recall correctly.

owtytrof, you're thinking of the Bantam release. That was the first book of his I ever got, and devoured it in similar fashion.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:31 AM on June 6, 2012


His writing gave me so many gifts and changed my life in so many ways. You will be missed, Mr. Bradbury.
posted by stellaluna at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by nz_kyle at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Snyder at 11:45 AM on June 6, 2012


There is a strange disconnect within a man who would live on the Red Planet but insist on in-person banking.
posted by tilde at 11:46 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by joannemerriam at 11:50 AM on June 6, 2012


If the land of Science Fiction had a Mount Rushmore, his face would be on it.

Thanks for Mr. Dark, and a thousand other memories, Mr. Bradbury, sir.

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posted by Mooski at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2012


The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land...
posted by Jeff Morris at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2012


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posted by kilo hertz at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2012


The Martian Chronicles opened my mind to a world of fiction that I had never even considered. It was indeed life changing. You will be sorely missed Mr. Bradbury.
posted by Splunge at 11:58 AM on June 6, 2012



Because of him the first time I got to drink dandelion wine I memorized the taste as best I could. It did taste of summer.

I thought it tasted awful, but I think I might try to find some anyway.

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posted by syanna at 11:58 AM on June 6, 2012


This just randomly popped into my head about a week ago, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1IxOS4VzKM (Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury) yt , an awkwardly fitting tribute.

How to make a famous SF/Fantasy writer happy

More details here.

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posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by psolo at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2012


Like many here, I was profoundly influenced by him as a kid. I remember getting into a lot of his creepier horror short stories, too, which surprised me after the sometimes nostalgic and treacly tone of some of the Martian Chronicles / Something Wicked era work. In particular I remember one called "The Next in Line" about a couple seeing mummies in Mexico whose oppressive, eerie tone sticks with me years later even though the details of the plot elude me. Looking around for its title I came across a 2007 interview with Bradbury where he briefly discusses it.

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posted by whir at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2012


Reading "Dandelion Wine" was one of the only bright spots of my high school English education. Looking back I can't believe how fortunate I was to be handed that exact book at that exact time.

For that, if nothing else:

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posted by hermitosis at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2012


Thanks Ray, for writing magical books like Dandelion Wine, that were there when I most needed them.

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posted by Artful Codger at 12:12 PM on June 6, 2012


(jinx!)
posted by Artful Codger at 12:13 PM on June 6, 2012


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The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man were, I think, the earliest SF short story collections I read as a kid.
posted by bouvin at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2012


Found his stuff the same way as a lot of others- school library, probably 3rd grade, along w/ Asimov, Heinlein and Silverberg (not sure why he was so omnipresent, but he was. ) Of course The Illustrated Man and the Martian Chronicles, but then- from the big library (well as big as they get in a town of 3000) Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine. I can still remember what the sunlight looked like, how the grass smelled, the morning I first read Dandelion Wine. (I am actually not sure if that's the book I'm thinking of- but mainly realist, or at least certainly non-SF stuff).

What it did- what they all did- was give me the curious experience of being nostalgic for the childhood he'd had, back when the century last turned, and simultaneously for the one I was having, mid-70's, on that very morning. The old man looking back- well, not so old, maybe not so much older than I've managed to be by now- was able to evoke those feelings so strongly, that he actually convinced me, a kid about the exact age as the one he was remembering, that life was really that magical, at least sometimes, on certain summer mornings. I've loved him ever since.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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I may not have always agreed with Ray's real-life opinions, but his books and short stories fired my imagination in ways few others have.
posted by postel's law at 12:23 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by gmm at 12:24 PM on June 6, 2012


Another letter: "All of my friends, all of my loved ones, were on the shelves above and shouted, yelled and shrieked at me to be creative."
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:29 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by angrycat at 12:31 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by methinks at 12:32 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by xorry at 12:36 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by sciatica at 12:41 PM on June 6, 2012


The Martian Chronicles was unlike anything I had read before. At the age I read it, all other books had a clear, simple narrative. This thing was just wonderfully imaginative. It played like a film in my head.
posted by vacapinta at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2012


Was Bradbury the last of the old school SF titans? The only living author who comes close that I can think of right now is Harlan Ellison. I suppose Ellison will be gone soon enough. God I feel old.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2012


There's Jack Vance.
posted by vacapinta at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2012


There is a strange disconnect within a man who would live on the Red Planet but insist on in-person banking.

Isaac Asimov was notoriously afraid to fly. He apparently only did so twice, both while under mililary orders. ("That's the army, Mr. Azimuth.") This did not inhibit his writing about travel to and among far-flung planets.

So it goes.

 
posted by Herodios at 12:50 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crap.

I've always been a little befuddled at Bradbury's classification as a science fiction writer. Sure, there's some aspects of scifi to some of it -- rockets to Mars and all that -- but his style and content has always been so dreamy and ethereal. Reflective, rather than action-packed. Always looking inward. It just doesn't fit the scifi mold.

Sigh.

For me, the story that made my young blood run cold was The Rocket Man. In fact, I just now Googled it to reread it quickly, and it still gives me goosebumps of anguish and horror. It's just a simple little short story about a boy and his father, no gore-flecked battles or gruesome descriptions of terrible things, but the end, the end, the realization and sudden stab. Even as a grownup, reading that story still does it to me.

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posted by Gator at 1:05 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I just say "what's the deal?" with Apple's iBooks having such a rotten selection of Bradbury? And further, they have 'study guides' for several of the novels even though the original works are not available? That's depressing.
posted by newdaddy at 1:07 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by brennen at 1:13 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by trip and a half at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2012


newdaddy, the Wired article mattbutcher linked above explains it -- Bradbury simply did not like ebooks at all, and did not give permission.
posted by rewil at 1:23 PM on June 6, 2012


Ray Bradbury and the Opportunity Mars Rover link
It must be dusty in here, something got in my eye...
posted by Nyrath at 1:23 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


My friend Fred said: The last of the author's that started me on a lifetime of reading has left our plane.
I agree. Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Smith, Norton, Blish, Moore, Nourse, and now Bradbury.
posted by Nyrath at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Be consoled. Only the man's old body died. His soul, his work, his genius live on.
posted by Cranberry at 1:26 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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It's going to be bittersweet, the next time someone asks about "All Summer in a Day" in AskMe.

No fear, the mods have started to delete that question.
posted by Mitheral at 1:31 PM on June 6, 2012


There's Jack Vance.

And Frederik Pohl is still alive and blogging at 92.
posted by Iridic at 1:32 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Jacqueline at 1:35 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by schyler523 at 1:40 PM on June 6, 2012


At the age of 10-11 or so, I read The Veldt in a translated version (published in Hindi by a local newspaper). I was too disturbed to sleep properly for a few days. It remains my favourite story of his. RIP, man.
posted by vidur at 1:49 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved at the end of the Chronicles, when the children gaze into the reflective canal water and see the Martians loking back at them.

I still get chills thinking of the boy whose dog brings him a beloved visitor..from the cemetary.

I've read about Greentown until I can't distinguish my own memories from his.

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posted by TreeRooster at 1:51 PM on June 6, 2012


Mark Evanier chimes in with a bittersweet memory.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:56 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dandelion Wine is nothing at all like my childhood. And yet it feels exactly like it. I haven't read any Bradbury in quite a while, but finding this out today--it actually hurts.

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posted by Ducks or monkeys at 1:58 PM on June 6, 2012


As a kid and teenager, I read Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and The Illustrated Man as an almost annual ritual. I just loved them. I admit, I didn't expand my reading of Bradbury much beyond those anthologies (and, of course, Fahrenheit 451) but he remains one of my all time favorite writers.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:06 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by ubiquity at 2:09 PM on June 6, 2012


I know that Bradbury is considered foremost a science fiction writer, but over time I have come to understand that as intentional as the extraordinary locations in his stories are, they themselves were not the point of the story. While many "hard" sci-fi writers use technology, worlds and civilizations as plot drivers for their stories, I came to realize that in nearly all Bradbury stories, these were secondary considerations. His use of sci-fi was unique in that he could take the reader out of our own reality and transport them to an imagining of Mars, or Venus, where reality was different enough that the reader couldn't really question it, and at the same time making the characters familiar enough that they could still be relatable.

And that, to me, is what allows his stories to stay compelling throughout all these years. Time has caught up with and often passed by many sci-fi writers who focused on imaginings of upcoming technology in a rather linear story environment. Often their stories have lost their luster because instead of being a fantastical prophecy of the future, the future has already come and gone, their predictions have come to pass, and now their stories seems quaint. Conversely, Bradbury's stories still stay relevant because of his NOT focusing on astounding the reader with new gadgetry or complex world systems, and instead driving the story with interactions between complex people and their hopes, dreams, fears, desires, ambitions, secrets and loves. Because his focus is on the core elements of the human experience, I believe his stories will continue to find an audience for generations to come.
posted by bionic.junkie at 2:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


A giant of my youth. His books fed my brain. I couldn't believe how awesome (at the time; now, I might think it was a crappy adaptation) the miniseries of The Martian Chronicles was. And the movie of Something Wicked This Way Comes. And, of course, Fahrenheit 451. I got to do a phone interview with him once, and was okay for about three minutes, then turned into a burbling fanboy, which made him uncomfortable and he soon got off the phone. But not before he told me that, yes, the office he sat in at the beginning of his TV show was his real office. It was great to talk to one of my literary heroes, however briefly.

At lunch today (since I long ago gave my copies of his books to youngsters just discovering sci-fi) I went out and bought, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Bradbury Stories.

Also beautiful is his short piece in last week's New Yorker (nice timing). A testament to the man who described childhood better than just about any other author who ever lived. And so nice to know that he experienced the exact same emotions reading great authors that I experienced reading him.
posted by old_growler at 2:25 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by mstokes650 at 2:29 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by redbeard at 2:29 PM on June 6, 2012


Somewhere there's a land where summers are still real summers and every town is the ideal whitefenced American suburb and all the kids go down to the local rocket park during the summer vacation to watch the rockets go off and dream of things to come, before going home for some cool lemonade and a quick game of baseball.

Somewhere that's where Ray Bradbury should be right now.

He was an important part of my childhood and he was the one writer who put childhood into science fiction, making rockets and rayguns as American as applepie.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:34 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by MelanieL at 2:39 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by but no cigar at 2:44 PM on June 6, 2012


My friend Fred said: The last of the author's that started me on a lifetime of reading has left our plane.
I agree. Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Smith, Norton, Blish, Moore, Nourse, and now Bradbury.


Let us hope Fred Pohl keeps beating the odds for a little while longer...

(Nourse is not a name I see a lot, but he was important to me too as a child discovering SF, especially the Mercy Men.)
posted by MartinWisse at 2:47 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by ZeusHumms at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2012


Fuck fuck fuck fuck. Fuck.

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posted by New England Cultist at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by sklero at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by DonnChadh at 2:54 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by en forme de poire at 2:57 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by lord_wolf at 3:03 PM on June 6, 2012


I somehow missed reading him, in my maximum SF reading years. I need to fix that.

Out of the real old timers, this leaves Pohl, and...who else? The dangerous young writers who came BEHIND them are elderly now!
posted by thelonius at 3:10 PM on June 6, 2012


I scrolls up...yes, Jack Vance.
posted by thelonius at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2012


My hope is that Pohl will live to be 150 to make up for losing Kornbluth in his thirties. If it's unlikely, at least his blog is a hoot.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by porpoise at 3:28 PM on June 6, 2012


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Just woke up to this news.
Day ruined.
posted by Mezentian at 3:32 PM on June 6, 2012


I'll think of him on summer afternoons and Halloween and the first day of school and when I am old.
Looks like it's time to get out October Country.
posted by irisclara at 3:33 PM on June 6, 2012


Is nothing sacred?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:50 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:51 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by marienbad at 3:52 PM on June 6, 2012


I can't remember when I first read Dandelion Wine. I can't imagine what I'd be like if I'd never read it.

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posted by MrVisible at 4:10 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am sad that I can't find words worthy enough to express how I feel about the writer who taught me to love words. I'll just share this:

A Conversation with Ray Bradbury

He was so full of vitality and zest for living, all the way up to the end.

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posted by Revie1 at 4:21 PM on June 6, 2012


Interesting to note in this thread how many read Bradbury in their teens, like I did. The Illustrated Man was a rich feast for my imagination then. Some books really resonate deeply during the teen years and are pivotal in creating meaningful, significant life-views. A few other sci-fi books read during teen years come to mind: Stranger In a Strange Land and the CS Lewis' Trilogy.
posted by nickyskye at 4:24 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by andraste at 4:24 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by marlys at 4:26 PM on June 6, 2012


The night was dark. The moons had gone down. Starlight twinkled on the empty highway where now there was not a sound, no car, no person, nothing. And it remained that way all the rest of the cool dark night.
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posted by byanyothername at 5:02 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by monkey closet at 5:04 PM on June 6, 2012


When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read science fiction books. Some of the books were weird or wonderful or scary, and the very best of which were all three at once, and the best of those were usually by Ray Bradbury. And in my mind, he has now gone to Mars to ride a boat through the silent canals that never were.

I have my well-worn, signed copy of The Martian Chronicle sitting on my footstool, all I have to decide is what I want to read, and where I want to go.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:08 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, the night is dark and full of terrors. Now.

Is that quote from The Highway?
Even though my love for There Will Come Soft Rains is endless, and I consider it one of the most powerful short stories I've ever read, The Highway is just some sort of perfect magical encapsulation of Ray's universe.

So quiet and understated.

Damnit, all I want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a good book and a mug of cocoa.

And, to the person who asked up-thread what to read of Ray's aside from F451: Everything.
Perhaps The Illustrated Man or I Sing The Body Electric. They're good, simple, tasty, evocative and mixed short stories.

I find the New Yorker bit above exactly what I expected, and showed he still had his magical ability with words right up until the end.

I haven't read them, but I suggest avoiding his noir books (Death Is A Lonely Business, a Graveyard for Lunatics etc) as I've heard they're not him at his peak.
posted by Mezentian at 5:16 PM on June 6, 2012


Fuck this. I don't know what to do with this information.
posted by Skygazer at 5:31 PM on June 6, 2012


Thanks, Ray.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:51 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by exlotuseater at 5:53 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by luminous phenomena at 6:21 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 6:28 PM on June 6, 2012


No

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posted by buzzv at 6:34 PM on June 6, 2012


ಠ_ರೃ
posted by Minus215Cee at 6:42 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Kinbote at 7:00 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by tribalspice at 7:17 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Meatbomb at 7:23 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by abitha! at 7:25 PM on June 6, 2012


I was just talking with some friends extensively about his story "All Summer in a Day" because of the Venus transit, and now this.

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posted by vegartanipla at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by ants at 7:38 PM on June 6, 2012


Are there enough of us to memorize all of it? All of the short stories, all of the novels? At meetups, will we recite "A Sound of Thunder," or "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit," or "The Pedestrian?" Did I hear that there's a man in Portland who knows of a woman somewhere in Vermont who has memorized all of Dandelion Wine?

And how frightening is it that this possible future seems less and less imaginary?

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posted by tzikeh at 7:42 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lovely melancholy tinged nostalgia for the future.
Thank you
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posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 7:44 PM on June 6, 2012


My username is an allusion to his Fahrenheit 451, a tribute, the melting point of silicon. He is a hero of mine, someone who has inspired me from childhood to my 40s, and I'm sure beyond. I got to shake his hand once and say, "Thank you for everything."

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posted by Celsius1414 at 7:44 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are two reasons I am a writer today. One is that my mother read to me.

The other is that what she read me was Ray Bradbury.

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posted by Mike Mongo at 7:58 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I love this thread and everyone in it and all their stories. Thanks, MF.

The first short story I wrote (and actually finished writing, as opposed to giving up half way through) as an adult was a story for my grandmother, but it was also for the author that it inspired the deep yearning nostalgia in it, and it was called "B is for Bradbury."

Excuse me, I have to go climb a tree in the summer rain and pretend to be an astronaut for a while.

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posted by skycrashesdown at 8:45 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:47 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Sportbilly at 8:55 PM on June 6, 2012


And one for my fine lady.

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posted by Sportbilly at 8:56 PM on June 6, 2012


Damn it. I just found out about this, and ... damn.

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posted by Ghidorah at 8:58 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by supercoiled at 9:02 PM on June 6, 2012


I just read Dandelion Wine, for the first time in I don't know how many years. God, it is magical, especially the first chapter, which sets up a telling of the summer of 1928 in Green Town (really Waukegan, Bradbury's home town). A series of short chapters that tell a greater story. Lyrical and poignant. At once the story of youth and age nearing death. The all-too fleeting. "Clean, smokeless, efficient, that's dandelion wine." Mr. Jonas was magical. and the last chapter was devastatingly beautiful.
posted by old_growler at 9:20 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Wyatt at 9:46 PM on June 6, 2012


Thanks for everything, Ray.
posted by Wyatt at 9:47 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by Rabarberofficer at 10:11 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by MLR0608 at 10:39 PM on June 6, 2012


My dad got got the Time Reading Program. Mostly fiction. I remember that copy of Martian Chronicles. I remember how chilling Something Wicked This Way Comes was, and how true it felt. Bradbury had a genuinely different way of seeing the world.

Yesterday, after days of rain, cold, rain, and more rain, there was a brief respite; a break in the rain and clouds just long enough to get a glimpse of the start of the transit of Venus. We were reminded of All Summer in Day, one of the saddest, most poignant stories I've ever read. It's not surprising that it comes up so often on Ask.me; it's haunting.

Thank you, Ray, for expanding the way I think, for being a gifted storyteller, for the parable of Fahrenheit 451, and for leaving us a body of work worth re-reading. I'm going to have a drink in your honor, and go have a look at the stars.
posted by theora55 at 10:51 PM on June 6, 2012


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posted by tenstairs at 1:35 AM on June 7, 2012


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posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 1:47 AM on June 7, 2012


"Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and three hundred great stories". according to Stephen King.

I don't know how I feel about that considering Wiki says he wrote 600 shorts, and whiles I can only claim to have read a fraction, I'm pretty sure they're all pretty great.
posted by Mezentian at 3:17 AM on June 7, 2012


20 Quotes from Ray Bradbury on Life, Death, And Writing. Very good stuff.
posted by alms at 7:19 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a bummer.. I was first exposed to his work when I had to write an essay for my English class on Dystopian literature.. RIP Ray Bradbury
posted by mike_a at 8:19 AM on June 7, 2012


Not sure if many know the story of the man who changed Bradbury's life. Mr. Electrico was real:

http://www.guideposts.org/print/inspirational-stories/inspired-to-greatness-by-mr-electrico
posted by old_growler at 9:31 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Menznetian, I think one of the things I love about Bradbury is that the stories aren't all great.

"I end as I began, nonplussed at my own history, but sure of certain aspects. I became what I became because I fed myself every day, a mild-mannered horse at the library trough, munching his Poe, Pope, Dickens, Dickinson, Shakespeare and Donne, minding his oats. And writing early morns or late nights, scribbling down the drivel to get rid of it to make welcome space for personal metaphors needing room and wanting out. And rushing to my much more than fifty friends for succor, aid, or tender loving care.

Beyond that, there is no me that exists. Only the books that have names. And those you know."

-Ray Bradbury


There's a loving pastiche offered by William F. Nolan at the end of a collection called The Bradbury Chronicles. It has bits like:

"Their ship was named The Golden Dandelion, and it was a good ship with a good crew, and it flew straight and true and did not slow down, ever. On board were Irish priests and simple Mexican peons and robust lightning-rod salesmen and rag-tag Dublin beggars and robots who cunningly resembled Irish priests and simple Mexican peons and robust lightning-rod salesmen and rag-tag Dublin beggars. And, of course, there was the crew: men named Littel and Bigg and Small and Able and Fine and Wright."

I'm chiming in late to this thread; like many others, Bradbury was a huge shaper of my youth, and although I've been readying myself for years, his death still struck me.

So a dot, of course, but a song as well. From one of the few modern things that strike me as truly in the spirit of Bradbury.
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posted by redsparkler at 11:37 AM on June 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I memorize very few things, but I loved this line so very much:
“Dark she was, and golden-eyed, burnt almost black from the sun, sleeping, and the children metallic in their beds..."
posted by redsparkler at 11:41 AM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


That Nolan quote is note perfect.

Now, if only Logan's Run wasn't out of print I could read some actual Nolan.
posted by Mezentian at 1:26 AM on June 8, 2012


In case any of you want to hear it, Neil Gaiman's tribute (written before Bradbury's death) is up on his website.
posted by archagon at 2:04 AM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bruce Sterling's piece is worthy of overcoming the NYT.
posted by infini at 4:29 AM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ray Bradbury interviewed at Comic-Con 2010 (audio)
posted by Artw at 12:08 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The pic of Ray Gaiman shows was just... so old.
I have just been reading Something Wicked, and I had to stop. It was so awesome.
posted by Mezentian at 5:35 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by ruelle at 5:51 AM on June 13, 2012


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