On Ray Bradbury

One of my favorite authors died yesterday.  I wanted to post about his death yesterday, but when you lose someone close to you, it can take you a little while to put your thoughts in order.

How is it possible that I’m close to someone I never met who was, at the time of his death, 62 years older than me?  It’s simple: he opened up doors for me in ways that no other author has.  Science-fiction is a genre that I love; it’s the thinking-man’s escape.  To be able to transfer yourself to not only another person’s story, but another person’s world is something that will draw me back to sci-fi time and time again.

Before you call me on it, yes, Fitzgerald is my first all-time-favorite author.  But I love him for the same reasons that I love Bradbury.  Their use of the English language is something so beautiful, so accessible, so wonderfully pleasing to the ear.  Where Fitzgerald could take anything and use just the right words to perfectly describe the scene, Bradbury used his words to light a fire under anyone who happened to pick up his words.

Google “Bradbury quotes” or “Bradbury speeches” and gaze in wonder at all of the nuggets of advice.  Everything, everything, he says boils down to the idea of living in wonder and doing what you’re passionate about.  If you’ve read any of his books, stories, or essays, you know he’s so passionate about the idea of wonder, something that keeps draining from society.  To truly appreciate anything and everything that you encounter during the course of the day, to marvel at creation.  To be amazed at everything around us; to stop trying to numb our minds with brainless activities and to think!

This is a tall order.

It’s not easy to be in wonder of the tenth day of clouds and rain in a row or in my students studying for finals.  And yet, this is all a part of God’s creation.  I think it’s easy for us to wonder when we’re in a place that’s particularly beautiful, but the mundane is much harder. Furthermore, it’s definitely easier to come home and watch TV than to read Dostoevsky; who wants to think when that’s what I’ve done all day long?  Nevertheless, this is Bradbury’s focus.

As Bradbury was a sci-fi writer (though, he didn’t often refer to himself as that), his wonderment was focused on science, creation, and outer space.  Our wonder can, and should, be focused on all of God’s creation, no matter how mundane or boring it might be.

I’ve already rambled a little bit here, so I’ll simply leave you, then, with one of my favorite Bradbury quotes: “Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. …Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.”