Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ray Bradbury 1920- 2012

For me, the desire to become a writer came in a series of waves. There was the initial ripple when a poem I wrote was put on the wall, and the pride I felt, but more importantly the feeling I got just before, the joy of stringing together words and the effect they had on me.

Many similar wavelets followed, but there was one that was larger than the rest. It was in the English class (of the appropriately named Mr Wright) and together we read one of Ray Bradbury's stories. I think it was called 'A Sound of Thunder'. It was about a group of time-travelling hunters who went back in time to hunt the ultimate 'big game' - specially selected dinosaurs. The hunters hovered on a pathway above the vegetation because it was important not to touch anything so as not to change anything in the past. The dinosaurs were specially selected because they were known to about to die anyway from their fossil record.

The hunt goes ahead, and what happened during that I don't remember because the important point of the story is what one of the hunters found underneath his shoe on the journey back to the future. It was a butterfly - and the destruction of that had changed everything.

Unfortunately, the bell for the end of lessons before we'd finished which meant we were supposed to close the book and go, but I couldn't. I sneakily hung behind trying to read it to the end and of course Mr Wright spotted me and laughed: an early indication of addiction.

After that I was hooked on Ray Bradbury. I went to the library and borrowed everything I could find. It is because of Ray Bradbury that I became addicted to the row of yellow Gollancz science fiction books on the library wall and then, eventually, the start of a career in science. But it was the writing I loved best, and the poetry of ideas. When I read The Martian Chronicles again much later I was still entranced by them. The science of Ray Bradbury's science fiction was relatively unimportant, I realised then. It was used mainly as a platform for flight, and writing that soared above everything in the most fantastic way I could imagine.

Ray Bradbury died on June 5th, a grand old man of 91, and Joanne Harris has written an appreciation of the man and his works - and the time she met him - just here.


Blogger Brian Clegg said...

Really sad to hear that - Ray Bradbury is one of my favoirite authors of all time. My personal favourite is his Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is masterful 'real world' fantasy.

Thu Jun 07, 10:48:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, I'm not surprised somehow, Brian. Your writing has a similar sort of clarity - despite the totally different field.

He was great. 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'- just hearing that title is exciting...which reminds me that I used the title of another of his books 'The Golden Apples of the Sun' as inspiration for my art project at the end of year 11. I owe that man a lot!

Thu Jun 07, 12:02:00 pm  
Blogger Anne S said...

Surprisingly I haven't read all that many of Ray Bradbury's books- Farenheit 451 and his October Country stories. Still sad to read of his death, though he had a good innings.

Fri Jun 08, 01:09:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I do recommend his short stories, Anne! Especially 'The Sound of Thunder' but there were others too...I remember a short one on a planet which had endless rain. I often think of that.

Fri Jun 08, 01:14:00 pm  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

It's been a sad week for writers, hasn't it? Bradbury meant so much to many writers in and out of genre.

Mon Jun 11, 07:59:00 am  

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