Ray Bradbury 1920- 2012
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.