Science fiction has lost one of its great heroes. It was revealed today that widely revered author Ray Bradbury passed away in his Los Angeles home on Tuesday at the age of 91. Bradbury's groundbreaking works, such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, influenced the science fiction genre as a whole and placed him among the ranks of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark.
At 12 years old, Bradbury began his lifelong devotion to writing thanks to a chance meeting with a performer at a carnival named Mr. Electrico. Using an electrified sword, the entertainer touched him on the nose, causing his hair to stick up, while commanding the young man to "Live Forever!" Literally sparked with inspiration, the young Bradbury decided the best way to "live forever" was to become a writer and vowed to write every day of his life.
He found himself drawn to writing science fiction and fantasy, having been largely influenced by the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and especially Edgar Rice Burroughs. After producing numerous short stories for various magazines, he published his first novel, The Martian Chronicles, in 1950. The book loosely arranged some of his previous tales into a single narrative dealing with the human race's attempts to colonize Mars as Earth crumbles into a nuclear wasteland. A few short years later, he published arguably his most influential work, Fahrenheit 451, which followed a futuristic fireman tasked with seeking out and destroying books.
Continuing his mission to write each day, Bradbury produced other writings for both print and television even as recently as 2010, when his ailing health began to take its toll. Most of his stories explored not just the possible future of technology, but how society would be shaped by it. He even lived to see some of his predictions become reality, such as ear buds, large screen televisions, and the public's growing appetite for electronic media and information.
In a book of essays published in 2005, Bradbury looked back on his life fondly:
"In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior."
R.I.P. Mr. Bradbury. Rest easy knowing that with the countless writers, inventors, and visionaries inspired by your work, you truly fulfilled your goal to live forever.
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