Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Ray Bradbury, O Lord

The father hesitated only a moment. He felt the vague pain in his chest. If I run, he thought, what will happen? Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before Death is what counts. And we've done fine tonight. Even Death can't spoil it.
Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

He seemed timeless somehow, that grand old man of science fiction. But of course no one is timeless and Ray Bradbury died today at age 91.

Somehow it seems appropriate that he died when summer is just beginning to bloom. One of the memories that showed up repeatedly in his stories and novels was that of Midwest neighborhoods with Victorian houses, green lawns, and lemonade sipped by genteel gentlefolk. Reading that you'd never know that his forte was a blend of science fiction and fantasy, often mixed with horror, written in almost lyrical style.

So many of his stories are part of my mental reading landscape. The Veldt, Usher II, The Halloween Tree, The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Recently I was finishing off a gift certificate and splurged by adding my own money to pick up The Stories of Ray Bradbury. I thought that I'd recognize many of the 100 stories in this anthology. As I have leisurely dipped in, here and there, I've been surprised that I do not recognize them and that many show a depth that resonates far beyond science fiction. Which, as I think of it, should not surprise me at all.

Bradbury was not only prolific but he is one of those gifted souls who raised his chosen genre far above the ordinary level. Not only did he entertain, but he taught us lessons for the heart. I also loved his optimistic spirit and his no nonsense grounding. He understood what was real, what was not, and what mattered.
We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
I am thankful that his stories, imagination, and humanity have enriched my life so well.
Eternal rest grant unto Ray Bradbury, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


  1. Beautifully written.

    I recently read his noir crime story "Death Is A Lonely Business", which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'll have to read the sequels - hopefully they're available on the Nook!

  2. I had exactly the same experience of surprise when I picked up the Collected Stories. I was familiar with the 1960s Portable Ray Bradbury edition--in fact, his story The Small Assassin almost ruined me for motherhood--but loved reading the breadth of his work. Today's NPR appreciation began with a seminal moment--his visit to a carnival, at age 12, where a magician named Dr Electro pointed a flaming sword at him and said, "Live forever!" Oh, he does.

  3. I'd forgotten all about The Small Assassin. A brilliantly chilling story and I'm so happy I never thought of it when I was pregnant!

    When I read Something Wicked for A Good Story is Hard to Find discussion, the book had an afterward by Bradbury telling the Dr. Electro story, as well as the fact that he was trying to write something for his good friend Gene Kelly to star in. The mind boggles ...