Many of you know the importance Ray Bradbury played in my life, as he did in so many others around the world. I grew up without a lot of adult supervision (to put it mildly). I started to read at the age of 3 and was fortunate enough that one of the first books I can truly remember is one of Mr. Bradbury’s short stories. The nature of his writing, the stories and their underlying moral message planted the seed the developed into my love of individual freedom and responsibility. Mr. Bradbury’s sensibility as conveyed through his literature that allowed me to survive through difficult times and eventually become a decent adult. As I enjoyed his work as an adult I realized it was a conservatism that he imparted in his stories, a classic American sensibility, all the while sending a message that anything, yes anything, was truly possible and that imagination was a key ingredient to making things happen.

I’ve said this before on my show and I understand it more than ever–I don’t know what would have happened to me without Ray Bradbury’s stories. This may be difficult for some to understand, but for those of us who are book worms, reading and stories inform our lives. As child for me this was the outlet which helped frame who I became. I finally had the honor and pleasure of getting to know him through my work. He was as wonderful and inspiration as you might imagine. He was his work. He continued to write every day, and now he is gone and there will be no more short stories, books or plays. I’ll miss him very much but thank God his work will be there forever.

So, do yourself and a kid you know a favor–grab a Bradbury book of short stories. Read them and share them. It’s a gift he’s left for all of us.

Ray Bradbury, the writer whose expansive flights of fantasy and vividly rendered space-scapes have provided the world with one of the most enduring speculative blueprints for the future, has died. He was 91.

Bradbury died Tuesday night, his daughter, Alexandra Bradbury, told the Associated Press. No other details were immediately available.

Author of more than 27 novels and story collections—most famously “The Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes”—and more than 600 short stories, Bradbury has frequently been credited with elevating the often-maligned reputation of science fiction. Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature.

“The only figure comparable to mention would be [Robert A.] Heinleinand then later [Arthur C.] Clarke,” said Gregory Benford, a UC Irvine physics professor who is also a Nebula award-winning science fiction writer. “But Bradbury, in the ’40s and ’50s, became the name brand.”

Much of Bradbury’s accessibility and ultimate popularity had to do with his gift as a stylist—his ability to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here and now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity.

The late Sam Moskowitz, the preeminent historian of science fiction, once offered this assessment: “In style, few match him. And the uniqueness of a story of Mars or Venus told in the contrasting literary rhythms of Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe is enough to fascinate any critic.”

As influenced by George Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare as he was by Jules Verne and Edgar Rice

Bradbury the boy

Burroughs, Bradbury was an expert of the taut tale, the last-sentence twist. And he was more celebrated for short fiction than his longer works.

“It’s telling that we read Bradbury for his short stories,” said Benford. “They are glimpses. The most important thing about writers is how they exist in our memories. Having read Bradbury is like having seen a striking glimpse out of a car window and then being whisked away.”

An example is from 1957’s “Dandelion Wine”:

“The sidewalks were haunted by dust ghosts all night as the furnace wind summoned them up, swung them about and gentled them down in a warm spice on the lawns. Trees, shaken by the footsteps of late-night strollers, sifted avalanches of dust. From midnight on, it seemed a volcano beyond the town was showering red-hot ashes everywhere, crusting slumberless night watchman and irritable dogs. Each house was a yellow attic smoldering with spontaneous combustion at three in the morning.”

Bradbury’s poetically drawn and atmospheric fictions—horror, fantasy, shadowy American gothics—explored life’s secret corners: what was hidden in the margins of the official family narrative, or the white noise whirring uncomfortably just below the placid surface. He offered a set of metaphors and life puzzles to ponder for the rocket age and beyond, and has influenced a wide swath of popular culture–from children’s writer R.L. Stine and singer Elton John (who penned his hit “Rocket Man” as an homage), to architect Jon Jerde who enlisted Bradbury to consider and offer suggestions about reimagining public spaces.

Bradbury frequently attempted to shrug out of the narrow “sci-fi” designation, not because he was put off by it, but rather because he believed it was imprecise.

“I’m not a science fiction writer,” he was frequently quoted as saying. “I’ve written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451″]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can’t happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.”

The following is an excellent video with Mr. Bradbury. It’s about an hour long. I highly recommend watching it. “An Evening with Ray Bradbury” 2001, from the 6th Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea.

Maynard found the Tammy interview! Sherman, set the WABAC Machine to May 16, 2005!

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16 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. yayii says:

    Sorry about the passing of one of your favorites 🙁

  2. Shifra says:

    Very sorry, Tammy. But, as you often say, 91, “a good run.” R.I.P., Ray Bradbury

  3. snit3 says:

    Bradbury’s short stories helped me make it through the 60’s – those, and a joint or two. I still find them scattered throughout my collection of old paperbacks. (His short stories, that is – not the joints) There were also a number of movies based on his writings. If you haven’t seen, “The Illustrated Man” or “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, you really should – best seen on a quiet winter night when you’re all alone with nothing else to do, and no one to bother you. We’ll miss him.

  4. FrankRemley says:

    If he’d never written anything except “Fahrenheit 451”, Bradbury would still be considered a literary genius. RIP.

  5. midget says:

    My first introduction to Mr. Bradbury was the movie Farenheit 451. The premise that books could be destroyed someday and only people memorizing them would keep the stories for others, didn’t seem far fetched. Even today, I can’t use a kindle because I miss the feel of turning the pages.I completely relate to his affection for libraries and bookstores. His youthful poverty gave him strength of character and enabled him to give much to the world. God Bless him and his family.

  6. Trish S says:

    “Fahrenheit 451” mesmerized me as a kid. Such an important book. RIP Mr. Bradbury.

  7. Shifra says:

    My list of “Tammy-inspired” things keeps growing:
    1) do more yoga
    2) switch from coffee to green tea
    and now:
    3) read all of Bradbury’s writings.

  8. dennisl59 says:

    I think I remember seeing Fahrenheit 451 at the Mount Vernon Drive-Inn Theater in Hybla Valley, outside Alexandria, Virginia, when it came out in 1966(I was 16 at the time)…The viewing platform was my 1961 White Ford Falcon with bench seats(‘natch) Everything English those days, especially Julie Christie, was very, very groovy baby. But like the other English creepy movies, Day of the Triffids and Village of the Dammned, it ‘freaked’ me out, so to speak. And PBR was the beverage of choice, btw.

    Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov and Heilein—>The Giants

    posted 6/6 945pm Texas[Let’s go to the Refreshment Stand!]Time.

  9. Trish S says:

    Oh my gosh, Tammy! I just finished watching “An Evening With Ray Bradbury.” He was an amazing and inspiring man! I actually took notes. I really needed to see this for several reasons! I LOVE his sense of wonder and openness to his craft. Thank you for sharing this:)

    I was a bookworm as a kid too. They were my escape. Books were and continue to be a magical experience!

  10. Trish S says:

    Great picture Maynard! Tammy, you look SO happy! How lucky were you to meet and share ideas with him?! That sure was no coincidence!

  11. larrygeary says:

    Ray Bradbury’s Reluctance to Write Star Trek Episodes:

    Brief, but well worth watching. Did you know Bradbury adapted “Moby Dick” for the classic Gregory Peck film?

  12. JuanitaDugas says:

    What a wonderful treat with my morning coffee! For an hour I laughed and I cried and was mesmerized by Bradbury’s excitement for life expressed in his story telling. Love how he and a childhood friend made a pact to grow old together but to never grow up….lucky us! Such a treasure to have met and interviewed him Tammy. Love that he still had his boyish Buster Brown bangs.

  13. Alain41 says:

    Nice remembrance by Michael Walsh.

    “… Written as a liberal plea against ignorance and conformity, “Fahrenheit 451” has in just over half a century become a conservative free-speech rallying cry.

    That change partly mirrors its author’s own journey from the Democrat who blasted the Eisenhower Republicans with a full-page ad in Variety (“Every attempt that you make to identify the Democratic Party as the party of Communism, as the ‘left-wing’ or ‘subversive’ party, I will attack with all my heart and soul”) to the late-life Tea Party supporter who said, “There is too much government today.” …”

  14. geezee says:

    Isn’t it interesting that all the newspapers have Bradbury’s death on front page! they who are his exact problem in Fahrenheit! they who give us the world (of lies) he warned against!

  15. ReardenSteel says:

    Read “Fahrenheit 451” in high school and it opened my eyes to what science fiction literature can be. Mr. Bradbury signed two books for me during a signing at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena, CA. A highlight of my life to meet him. They are next to my signed Kurt Vonnegut I got years ago. Ray Bradbury made me want to read science fiction’s greatest works. Thanks Ray, rest in peace.

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