Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The October leaves fall early: Goodbye, Ray Bradbury, Goodbye

We are less today, all of us, less than the day before though if we felt the loss as it happened it was only as a ripple in the morning breeze. A child died, a child of 91, a great man of a child.  When I heard the news, it hurt like a punch to the chest, the kind that makes you swear your heart stopped for an instant.

Many science fiction and fantasy writers create strange worlds; it is part and parcel of what we do.  Bradbury certainly did that, as anyone who read his Mars stories will attest. What drew the young me to his work, though, was how strange and mysterious he made this world seem. As children, we know the world is a mystery full of unexpected grace and unwanted fear, of dark shadows that the brightest light cannot illuminate, of fields of wondrous flowers no rational process can explain, of hearts and minds beyond our understanding. As we grow older, many of us forget that world and replace it with one that we tell ourselves we comprehend fully--or will, if we but work a little harder.  Bradbury never bought into that illusion. The world he showed us was forever and always a mysterious and wondrous place.

That mystery and wonder extended to the ways he used language, as much poetry as prose, sentences that hinted that even the simplest stories danced and sang when in the hands of a master.

I met Ray Bradbury as a child, and from the first story of his that I read until today I never forgot the feelings his work caused.  I never will.

I did not ever have the chance to meet him personally, and for that lack I am sad.

His stories, though, are still here, still with those of us fortunate enough to have encountered them already, still waiting for the many who have yet to wander into them and be transported to the true world of mystery and magic. 

Goodbye, Ray Bradbury, goodbye.

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