Saturday, August 22, 2020


Today is the late, great Ray Bradbury's birthday.  If you're a follower of this blog, you know how much Bradbury means to me.  And, if you don't know, just read this.

We discover some writers when we're young, take them into our hearts, but never really return to them.  As we grow older, other voices seem more urgent, more important.  But Ray's work only deepens with the years, and the impact of his brilliant stories remains as powerful as the day I first read them.

Happy Birthday, Ray—wherever in this vast, magical universe you are.


  1. One of the things I think gets overlooked when Bradbury is discussed is that he is one of the few writers to create his own sub-genre of fiction. That is impressive.


  2. I'd go so far as to say that Bradbury is a genre unto himself.

    1. I'm not sure I would go that far. Let's not confuse a noticeable style with genre.

      I do however think he created the "childhood magic" sub-genre of fantasy. You know, the kind I mean. Where a writer will go on about an aspect of childhood and all the meaning it had to them, and it gets to the point where the story has literal magic of some sort in it. A manifestation of childhood nostalgia as a supernatural force.

      There was a story in the July/August issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction this year that got me thinking on the subject.

      IN all honesty I don't really care for the genre. Anything about the "magic of childhood," whether the term is literal or figurative, has me checking out. There is no magic back there.

      I think Bradbury would write it in a way I could enjoy, but they are hardly my favorite stories of his.

      But, whether I like the sub-genre or not, not many writers can do that trick.


    2. That's certainly part of Bradbury's magic, but, for me, it comes down to the way he views life, the universe, and everything with eyes of wonder. And, of course, his writing style which so brilliantly communicates that wonder with every word. And the inspiration energy behind those words: He's one of those writers who makes me want to write.

      But, really, all you have to do is go back through my old posts about Ray to get all this in a more eloquent form. It's too early in the day for me to fully rhapsodize.

    3. Bradbury told a story about meeting Philip K. Dick. I don't remember the exact words, but he seemed like a miserable person. It the most literal sense, that he was unhappy. That was probably accurate, but it seemed to turn Bradbury off to the man.

      I first read that a few years ago and it made certain elements of my view of Bradbury click.

      You are correct, Bradbury did see the world with wonder. That certainly exists in the world, but it is only a mode. Even Bradbury's horror has a certain wonder to it.

      I'm not sure it is healthy to have that much wonder in your vision.

      I think that difference between you and I (you seeing the it as admirable and I as almost a handicap) allows me to see the forest for the trees a little better.

      All that having been said, I do love Bradbury, and consider one of America's greatest authors.

      I think his greatest strength was obviously his imagination. A close second is how plain his writing is.

      I don't mean that as dull, I mean there is no pretense, it is laid out to be absorbed. It is made to connect with people. That is what Bradbury's writing was always about, people.


    4. No pretense. That's a good way of putting it. Very direct, from the heart, soul and imagination. (The hardest thing to achieve in writing, in any art, is simplicity. And true simplicity in art echoes with innumerable layers and levels of meaning.) But his words were also rich with poetry, flowing and dancing across the page and into the reader's mind.

      Not that I have any opinions about Bradbury and his work. : )

    5. Simple. Plain. Basic. They all describe Bradbury's work, but in a good way. A very good way. The problem is that they all can also mean something bad as well.

      I think that accessibility is what made him the man to help introduce Sci-Fi to a larger audience, which he very much did.

      Heinlein is too in your face. Asimov too dry. Dick too stuck in his own head. Ellison to kinetic and too much the fan.

      Great writers all, but alienating to anyone not committed to the world, or at least interested.

      Ray laid out the story to any interested parties and said, "take it or leave it, but I bet you come back. Either way I'll be here with a smile."

      It almost feels like a story teller of old sitting on a log in the town square.


    6. Yes, he was very much that "storyteller of old." A bit of a magician and mystic, too; but, at heart, a storyteller of towering gifts.