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.
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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
"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
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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