Over the last couple decades I have lost most of my heroes. Ray Bradbury left us a few days ago.
Driving around Friday morning I listened to an NPR show on his impact on American literature. They kept using phrases like "he put the fiction in science fiction" and he "transcended genre writing."
Then one women called in to talk about the letter her brother wrote him decades ago. He still had Bradbury's response framed in his home. She said that Bradbury considered his fan mail to be love letters and valued them all. When I heard that, I knew what I needed to do, unfortunately a little too late. Here is my love letter to Ray Bradbury:
Most genre writers get stuck within their genre. They also often write stories where the setting is more important than the characters or the plot. Bradbury wrote compelling stories that just happened to be set in the future or on a space ship. Bradbury wrote a lot more than just the sci-fi he is most remembered for, including the screen play for the film "Moby Dick."
Bradbury told stories that could have been written in any genre. Fahrenheit 451 is a story about censorship in the future, but it could have easily been set in the America of the 1950s that it was written in. A Sound of Thunder, shows us how very small things can have profound effects on the world. He easily could have made the same point without time travel.
A while ago I found an old collection of short stories from the 70s at a yard sale. I turned to my wife and said: "This was my English book one year in high school".
When Debbie asked me how I remembered it my immediate response was: "It has the coolest Ray Bradbury story in it." I bought it. It was still the coolest story!
Thank you, Ray Bradbury.