Celebrating Bradbury

I called my good friend (and gifted writer) John C. Hocking Saturday to catch up and pretty soon we fell to discussing what we’d been reading lately. And naturally we got quickly around to discussing Ray Bradbury. It was amazing how many great stories we reminded each other of, almost like we were sharing memories of spending time with an old friend. “Remember when he did this, or how about the time he did that?”

Maybe it WAS exactly like remembering an old friend, because those stories had kept the both of us company for many years, and led us to strange and exciting places. Bradbury opened up so many doors of the imagination. “How about that story,” I said to Hocking, “about the Chinese emperor and the man who invented the flying machine?” And then he’d mention “The Fog-Horn,” or “The Pedestrian,” or “The Veldt.” And then I’d go on about “The Blue Bottle,” a story I love so much I read it again every few years even though the words are well-worn into my heart. Or “The One Who Waits,” about the perfectly pleasant monster on Mars who’s only lonely–it doesn’t MEAN to kill anyone… Or the haunting “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed,” or, that great murder story that ends with the line “and then some fool turned on the lights.”

There were so many great ones. It seems to me that some of my very favorites are Bradbury Martian stories that aren’t actually in The Martian Chronicles, but, really, not all of the ones I love are space opera, or science fantasy. I have a hankering to break out some of the battered anthologies I have on my shelves, and maybe go hunt the used book store to see if I can pick up some more of those old Bradbury collections I used to check out from the library when I was a kid.

Other writers and readers have waxed eloquently about Bradbury all this last week. I don’t know that there’s much more I can add, except I believe the entire world is richer for having had Mr. Bradbury here among us. I mourn, yes, but there is so much to remember that as I think back on the joys his work created, I do not weep, I smile. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.

4 Comments on “Celebrating Bradbury

    • I just found that one on my shelf, Charles. I have an old, old copy of it with this terrific picture of a cloaked, hunched figure walking a lizard, and twisted buildings in the background. I wish I had a framed painting of that pic, I like it so much.

  1. “and then some fool turned on the lights.” Haha. Yes, that story stays with you. Perhaps his best horror story. The Martian Chronicles is my favorite and one of my favorite books of all time. It has that delicious nostalgia and melancholy haunting beauty that is so unforgettable and so hard to capture as a writer. It transports you into an altered state of mind where the sunset is forever. My next two favorites are Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I wrote a brief post about his death, but as you say, what can you really say that others haven’t tried. He was a great author, a great American and a great human being.

    • I’m re-reading The Martian Chronicles now for the first time in 30 some years. Maybe I’ll give Something Wicked This Way Comes another try as well. I think I read it too young, or in the wrong mood, because I just never got excited about that one the way everyone else did.

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