An Appreciation of Ray Bradbury

It’s always sad when a great author leaves us, especially a giant in his field. And you don’t get bigger, when it comes to SF, than Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury is one of those authors everyone grows up reading. There isn’t a high school in the country that doesn’t ask its students to read “Dandelion Wine”, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, or “Fahrenheit 451” at some point. But too many people define Bradbury by just those books, because, really, Bradbury was a master of the short story, and not just SF, either.

For example, there’s nothing quite as creepy as the dawning realization of the protagonist as to just what he is in “The Scythe”. Or pretty much the entire plot of “The Small Assassin”. He was capable of incorporating political aspects to his work without becoming preachy or pretentious: just read “There Will Come Soft Rains”, for example, a story that sticks with you. So much so that you can find a reference to it in “Fallout 3”, of all places.

Then there was his work in film and television. “It Came From Outer Space” has a silly title, but it nearly inverts the paranoia and fear prevalent in monster movies at the time. His stories helped define the tone and style of “The Twilight Zone”.

It’s hard to sum up his influence in just a few hundred words. In the end, what it comes down to was that he was an amazing storyteller, capable of scaring us and pulling the heartstrings in equal measure. We’re going to miss him, but his stories, at least, are still here.

image courtesy the Bradbury estate