Roundtable on Ray Bradbury

Karen Burnham

Last week we lost Ray Bradbury at the age of 91. Perhaps one of the most influential and most widely read sf authors of the last hundred years. Would anyone like to reflect on his passing?

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Terry Bisson

I think you mean his death.

The Norman Rockwell of Am Lit.

Technically very precocious and proficient. Struck a deep chord that still rumbles. Never saw much need to change or develop. Iconic to America, important to us (writers) all.

Ellen Datlow

Bradbury’s short stories were very important to me growing up. I remember the best of them being fascinating (the Mars stories), strange, moving, and sometimes terrifying. I haven’t reread any but “Heavy Set” recently but that one, to me, shows the falsehood that he was always sentimental. Yeah. He showed us a Norman Rockwell side of America, then twisted the knife.

His death makes me think I need to reread some of those amazing stories.

Stefan Dziemianowicz

I’d build on what Terry and Ellen have said and call Bradbury the Norman Rockwell of dark fantasy. He evoked the bucolic small-town life in stories like “The Handler,” “Lets Play Poison,” “The Jar,” “The October Game,” and countless others, so that he could lift that particular rock and show the nasty things squirming underneath. “Heavy Set” is a very unsettling story, in no small part because I think it’s Bradbury reflecting on a character type that he perfected and modeled to some extent on himself: the boy who never grew up. It wasn’t the first story he wrote in which he showed there nothing particularly sentimental about that type of boy.

I can think of no other writer who made such a name for himself in science fiction by being so apprehensive about science and technology. That quality of Bradbury’s work could be one of the reasons why he connected with a vast readership outside of fandom.

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2 thoughts on “Roundtable on Ray Bradbury

  • June 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I first read Bradbury when I was twelve or so. Nostalgia for an ideal American past means nothing to a child of that age, and what I was immediately aware of (and drawn by) was the ambivalence and outright darkness is his vision. The first story of his that I read was “Pillar of Fire,” and it’s invariably the one that comes to mind of when I think of Bradbury. It is sentimental in its own way, but like the rest of his best, it’s sentimental in the way that Jack the Ripper must haven been. I met Bradbury a couple of times in the mid 70’s, at the late lamented Change of Hobbit bookstore in Los Angeles. I remember him once talking about his love for Edgar Rice Burroughs and saying that he’d give anything to see Barsoom created on the screen with great, modern (1970’s!) special effects. I didn’t get around to seeing John Carter myself, but I hope Ray did, and I hope he loved it.

  • July 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Utterly composed articles, thanks for selective information. “Life is God’s novel. Let him write it.” by Isaac Bashevis Singer.


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