What does one even say about one of the finest voices in modern science fiction? In writing? Others will most definitely offer more lyrical and soulful tributes to Mr. Bradbury, and for that we can all be glad and appreciative.
source: New Yorker (resized here)
But I learned a few things, too, from Mr. Bradbury.
My first foray into Bradbury’s work was through Dandelion Wine, perhaps his most personal work, a boy and one magical, Midwestern 1928 summer. The first few lines are a testament to the soft power of Bradbury’s prose, and the how he could create mood and setting in just a few sentences:
It was a quiet morning, the town covered over in darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.
And then the brilliant futuristic retro of his Martian Chronicles, written in the 1940s and set in 2030 (nearly upon us, now). Aldous Huxley called him a poet, and I’d have to agree, in the way he structured language and built the roads through his narratives upon which it traveled.
From “Ylla” in The Martian Chronicles:
They had a house of crystal pillars on the planet Mars edge of an empty sea, and every morning you could see Mrs. K eating the golden fruits that grew from the crystal walls, or cleaning the house with handfuls of magnetic dust which, taking all dirt with it, blew away on the hot wind.
Fusing the mundane with the fantastic, whose characters were like/not like us, redeemed or maybe not, who flowed across the pages with Bradbury magic.
And the men with the cigarettes in their straight-lined mouths, the men with the eyes of puff adders, took up their load of machine and tube, their case of liquid melancholy and the slow dark sludge of nameless stuff, and strolled out the door.
Farenheit 451, this edition, available here.
And there’s so much more, so much more to savor and sip, to wind around our limbs like silk sheets. Such was the nature of his narrative.
Ray Bradbury taught me that words contain magic, that writing can be a key to unlock it, and that within us all is someone else, usually a lot younger and aching to find new worlds. I am grateful for his legacy.
If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.–Ray Bradbury
He taught me that, too.
I’m still building my wings.