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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

I remember reading the Martian Chronicles. We lived in Baltimore and it was a hot summer and the world was flying apart and I was sure we were going to be obliterated by a nuclear bomb. You always thought that in the sixties and seventies. At least I did. And somehow I got a copy of Bradbury's book of short stories about humans colonizing Mars. It was one of those dog eared paperbacks that were on the rack at the library with a funky cover. And the  stories were amazing. For a boy who had just watched the astronauts land on the moon, the Martian Chronicles made perfect sense.

And it was the irony in those stories before I knew what irony was. Something about the people spoke to me as they wrestled with the threat of extinction, a very big theme in Bradbury's stories. And then there was Dandelion Wine. And then there was Fahrenheit 451. I have to admit I didn't care for his masterpiece as much as his stories. And that was as far as I ever got into science fiction or fantasy as Ray called it. He was my only foray into the world of rockets and men on Mars. But it was enough.

I think the people you read when you are just a kid stay with you for life. I never went back and re-read Bradbury. He just stayed with me as an old friend along with the Tom Swift and Hardy Boy stories. He is forever associated with puttering around the hot sidewalks of Baltimore or laying on the porch and reading. I do remember he made me think and the characters echo through time more than the actual plots. I can see now I will have to go back and read these books again now that Ray Bradbury has left us. It is the least you can do for a great writer.

Books by William Hazelgrove