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.