Last week we lost Ray Bradbury at the age of 91. Perhaps one of the most influential and most widely read sf authors of the last hundred years. Would anyone like to reflect on his passing?
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I think you mean his death.
The Norman Rockwell of Am Lit.
Technically very precocious and proficient. Struck a deep chord that still rumbles. Never saw much need to change or develop. Iconic to America, important to us (writers) all.
Bradbury’s short stories were very important to me growing up. I remember the best of them being fascinating (the Mars stories), strange, moving, and sometimes terrifying. I haven’t reread any but “Heavy Set” recently but that one, to me, shows the falsehood that he was always sentimental. Yeah. He showed us a Norman Rockwell side of America, then twisted the knife.
His death makes me think I need to reread some of those amazing stories.
I’d build on what Terry and Ellen have said and call Bradbury the Norman Rockwell of dark fantasy. He evoked the bucolic small-town life in stories like “The Handler,” “Lets Play Poison,” “The Jar,” “The October Game,” and countless others, so that he could lift that particular rock and show the nasty things squirming underneath. “Heavy Set” is a very unsettling story, in no small part because I think it’s Bradbury reflecting on a character type that he perfected and modeled to some extent on himself: the boy who never grew up. It wasn’t the first story he wrote in which he showed there nothing particularly sentimental about that type of boy.
I can think of no other writer who made such a name for himself in science fiction by being so apprehensive about science and technology. That quality of Bradbury’s work could be one of the reasons why he connected with a vast readership outside of fandom.
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