Farewell to Ray Bradbury, master of sci-fi literature

The literary world (this one, on planet Earth) lost one of its greats this week.

Ray Bradbury, a master of science fiction and whose imagination took readers to new planes, died this week, aged ninety-one.

Bradbury’s list of publications is long – twenty-seven novels and some six hundred short stories – but he will best be remembered for redefining science fiction and cementing it as a mainstream literary genre.

The New York Times published a wonderful and fitting tribute to Bradbury earlier this week. I’d like to highlight a few facts about this great author that are both endearing and fascinating.

When Bradbury was a very young boy he went to a carnival. A carnival entertainer, known as Mr. Electrico, touched Bradbury on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end and shouted, “Live forever!”. According to Bradbury, “I felt that something strange and wonderful had happened to me because of my encounter with Mr. Electrico…[he] gave me a future… I began to write, full-time. I have written every single day of my life since that day 69 years ago.”

I am always fascinated by author’s writing habits. Bradbury wrote at least a thousand words a day on his typewriter, a habit that would endure his whole life. He was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and, in turn, his stories inspired the likes of Steven Spielberg, Neil Gaiman and Stephen King.

Bradbury was a strong advocate of public libraries (in his own words, “…libraries raised me…”) and was not a fan of ‘machines’ (mobile phones and the internet). However, when the publishing rights for his most celebrated novel, Fahrenheit 451, came up for renewal last year, Bradbury conceded that the book could be published as an e-book, provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, allowed it to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. Fahrenheit 451 is the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalogue where this is possible.

Find Ray Bradbury’s novels and collections of short stories at Book Depository.


Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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