Ray Bradbury has not died. Not really.
I'm reminded of a lot of things today, including foremost Joni Mitchell's line:
Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?
I'm feeling that way about Ray Bradbury right now. Had you asked me a week ago if I liked Ray Bradbury, I would have said "Yes, of course." But it's today, reflecting upon his reported "death." that I am most fully moved by the power of his work.
I'm not, in particular, a science fiction fan. But I am, in particular, a fan of a great story and of powerful writing. Bradbury delivered both, consistently, decade after decade.
My favorite part of The Martian Chronicles was the beginning. I first read it in high school. The people of Earth land on Mars, and are destroyed by Martians whom they don't even recognize because the Martians have properties imperceptible to humans. Whoa. Heady stuff for a teenager. I had more than my share of teenage hubris (I have got this all figured out. What's the big deal?) and then this. Attacked by things I couldn't perceive. Mind blown.
I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time in middle school, and it made an impression. The shock of burning books. Firemen's roles reversed. (The debut of flat-screen TVs!) And the ending. Ooh, that ending. I don't think I fully appreciated it at the young age I first read it. I appreciated it a bit more when I read it again in high school. (SPOILER ALERT ahead. Stop reading here if you don't want to know how the book ends.) But it's only now, as a 45-year-old woman who has had her share of life experiences, that it etched itself upon my heart: We are the stories. We carry them within ourselves.
But it's a line from The Illustrated Man that I'm warmed by today:
My tunes and numbers are here. They have filled my years, the years when I refused to die. And in order to do that I wrote, I wrote, I wrote, at noon or 3:00 A.M. So as not to be dead.
Dear God, that's it. That's why I write. So that I will live on. So that someone, somewhere, will know I existed. So as not to be dead.
His tunes and numbers are here. They're on the Internet. They're on paper. And should those mediums fail or be destroyed, they're in us.
God bless Ray Bradbury, who did not die today. Not really.