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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No More Summer Running

RIP Ray Bradbury.  Perhaps he's drinking dandelion wine with all his old colleagues.


I grew up on Ray Bradbury's short story collections. The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, The Golden Apples of the Sun, R is for Rocket, S is for Space, I Sing the Body Electric; yeah, sure, I read Heinlein, Clarke, Norton, and Asimov, but Bradbury's short stories were the ones that made me say, "Hey! I want to do that!" Somewhere in my archives there are piles of really bad Imitation Bradbury stories I wrote when I was a teenager, that haven't seen the light of day in the thirty-plus years since, and which I should probably burn now, purely as a public service.

Half a lifetime ago I was at a big con in -- Atlanta, I think -- waiting to go into a hall that was closed for the moment, and turned around to find that the man standing next to me was Mr. Bradbury. I was still frozen in awestruck fanboy mode when he leaned over, read my name tag, and then stuck out a handshake, said how pleased he was to meet me, and started talking about how much he'd liked a story that I had just had published. I wish I could remember which one. I'd only made it as far as, "Buh -- buh -- buh -- Bradbury!"

Yeah, he really was that kind of a good guy. The world is poorer for his passing, but he left a terrific body of work and some huge footprints to follow.

Good legacy, for a writer.

I keep thinking of the end of Truffaut's 1966 (?) film of Fahrenheit 451, in which all the people who have memorized books to keep them alive are walking around, reciting them. That seems like a fitting way to honor Bradbury: by reading one of his stories aloud tonight.

I wonder which one I'll chose? Going back to The Illustrated Man seems like the right thing to do, since that's where my lifelong affection for Bradbury's writing started, but there are so many good stories...

Ah, here we go: "The Exiles."

     "Their eyes were like fire and the breath flamed out the witches' mouths as they bent to probe the cauldron with greasy stick and bony finger.

     'When shall we three meet again
     In thunder, lightning, or in rain?'

How about you? What's the Ray Bradbury story most on your mind tonight?
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