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Ray Bradbury, writer and Angeleno was 91 *

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Ray Bradbury died last night. There have been no other details released. Bradbury loved Los Angeles and was a longtime resident of the Rancho Park-Cheviot Hills area.

The New York Times lede:

"Ray Bradbury, a master of science fiction whose lyrical evocations of the future reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 91....

"By many estimations Mr. Bradbury was the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream. His name would appear near the top of any list of major science-fiction writers of the 20th century, beside those of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein and the Polish author Stanislaw Lem.

"In Mr. Bradbury’s lifetime more than eight million copies of his books were sold in 36 languages. They included the short-story collections 'The Martian Chronicles,' 'The Illustrated Man' and 'The Golden Apples of the Sun,' and the novels 'Fahrenheit 451' and 'Something Wicked This Way Comes.'"

From Lynell George's advance obit in the Los Angeles Times:

"Ray Bradbury, the writer whose expansive flights of fantasy and vividly rendered space-scapes have provided the world with one of the most enduring speculative blueprints for the future, has died. He was 91....

"Author of more than 27 novels and story collections—most famously 'The Martian Chronicles,' 'Fahrenheit 451,' 'Dandelion Wine' and 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'—and more than 600 short stories, Bradbury has frequently been credited with elevating the often-maligned reputation of science fiction. Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature.

"'The only figure comparable to mention would be [Robert A.] Heinleinand then later [Arthur C.] Clarke,' said Gregory Benford, a UC Irvine physics professor who is also a Nebula award-winning science fiction writer. 'But Bradbury, in the '40s and '50s, became the name brand.'"

This was posted to the front page of RayBradbury.com this morning:

Ray Bradbury, recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91 after a long illness. He lived in Los Angeles.


In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. In 2005, Bradbury published a book of essays titled Bradbury Speaks, in which he wrote: In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.

He is survived by his four daughters, Susan Nixon, Ramona Ostergren, Bettina Karapetian, and Alexandra Bradbury, and eight grandchildren. His wife, Marguerite, predeceased him in 2003, after fifty-seven years of marriage.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, Live forever! Bradbury later said, I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped.

In 2006, LA Observed author Denise Hamilton wrote a personal tribute to Bradbury at our Native Intelligence blog. Excerpt:

It was the early 1970s when Ray Bradbury and I met at Saint Patrick's Elementary School Library in North Hollywood. We were introduced through a dog-eared, much-underlined, yellowing paperback called "Dandelion Wine" and I promptly fell into puppy love. Ray was already ancient then, with graying hair and horn-rimmed glasses, or so it seemed to an 11-year-old, but I didn't care. I promptly read all his books on the shelves, sneaking in at odd hours since our little library doubled as the teachers' lounge. I recall pouring over "The Illustrated Man," "M is for Melancholy" and "The Martian Chronicles" at recess and lunch with the ardor that my school chums reserved for Tiger Beat Magazine. Ray's books transported me to shimmering far-off worlds. As you might imagine, my solitary obsession made me very popular with my David Cassidy/Bobby Sherman swooning peers.


Back then, I had no idea that Ray lived in Los Angeles, less than 20 miles from me....

In college, Ray and I broke up. He'd become a bit of an embarrassment to me, proof of what a rube I'd been. I spurned his simple prose, his dated science. I was in love with more sophisticated, demanding and transgressive writers. Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Anais Nin, Andre Gide, Thomas Mann, T.S. Eliot, Jean Paul Sartre, Laurence Durrell, Thomas Pynchon, Feodor Dostoevsky. Ray was the freckled hometown boy in overalls who lacked the glittering allure of my edgier, faster crowd.

Then I must confess, I forgot about him altogether. I became a journalist, traveled the world, wrote my own novels, read many other things, had babies. Then my babies began to grow out of picture books. Browsing in my home library one day, I pulled out a dog-eared, much-underlined yellowing paperback copy of "Dandelion Wine" and all the fond spooky memories came rushing back. I began to read the book out loud to my oldest son each night, savoring the exquisite moods, the evocations of terror, of joy, the unbearable lightness of summer and the dark that lurked at the edges of things. It was a double pleasure to rediscover him as an adult, a triple pleasure that my son liked him too. Next came the "Martian Chronicles." Then "Fahrenheit 451." Bam, another generation was hooked.

Read the whole thing.


Forums and message boards where Bradbury fans meet are of course filling with outpourings. This from Kip Russell at io9.com:

Somewhere in America, a boy tap-dances a on a tuned segment of discarded wooden sidewalk, calling his friends to run over the hills by moonlight...


Out on the Veldt, the animals pause for a moment, as though something unseen had passed through their midst...

Somewhere on Mars, a new silver fire is burning to welcome him...

By the river, a Book stops it's recitation for the day, to remember a fine man who wrote such fine, fine things.

Thanks be, for Ray Bradbury, who taught me that there could be poetry in prose.


For his 90th birthday, Bradbury talked in this UCLA video about remembering his birth and being in the womb. "I have total recall of all of my life." He wrote "Fahrenheit 451" on a pay-as-you-go typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library.



1953 NYT review of Fahrenheit 451: "Our chief concern is with the third and title piece. Reading Ray Bradbury's first full-scale novel is an unsettling experience."


Previously on LA Observed:
Ray Bradbury's typewriter
'Fahrenheit 451' now out as an e-book *
Paramount latest studio to try 'The Martian Chronicles'
Forrest Ackerman dies at 92
Ray Bradbury mourns Acres of Books


Photo by Gary Leonard from February 2009


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