It is late in the week, and by now most of our readers know that Ray Bradbury, one of the last of the Golden Age of Sci-Fi’s grand old men, died Wednesday morning at the age of 91. The tributes have come from everyone from the White House to his colleagues. There is little one can say here that hasn’t already been said. The man was acclaimed for a reason. Pick up The Illustrated Man, The Golden Apples of the Sun, Fahrenheit 451, or any of his other classics, and you’ll see why.
The outpouring of tributes are a testament to Bradbury’s amazing imagination and reach. But few sum up the sheer humanity of his outlook more than the one above, released by the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, of him reading “If only we had taller been” while Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke look on. The future had scientists; Bradbury knew it needed poets.
In stories of implacable void and burning books, Bradbury pioneered bleak dread in our ideas of what the future could be, but despite his own temperamental times, his sense of wonder remained invincible.
It powered his work until the end. “Take Me Home” came out just before his death, in the current issue of The New Yorker. In it, a young boy readies for the future, devouring stories and launching fire balloons, watching as they float “across the night among the stars,” far beyond the horizon.
Photo via AP
Farewell, Ray Bradbury. (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012.)