Thursday, June 7, 2012

Saying goodbye to Ray Bradbury: Your books live on.

I have previously written about some of my favorite authors and books, both this year (February 8th) and last year (August 30th). I included sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury as one of my favorite authors and The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and The Illustrated Man as some of my favorite books. I think when I read The Martian Chronicles for the first time, I got hooked. Just plain hooked. Hooked on a genre of writing that drew me in and kept me engrossed for much of my life thus far. I couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen years old when I first read The Martian Chronicles. Even at that age I understood that we might not be alone in the universe. And even though there may not be Martians on Mars, Bradbury’s book was a fascinating entry into a world that has never stopped intriguing me. We wonder about what is out there in space, and we imagine all sorts of alien creatures and humanoids. In The Martian Chronicles, we as humans did not expect to be met by creatures who could read our minds in an effort to make us ‘feel at home’, only to turn on us in the darkness. The Martians we met on Mars looked like us—family and friends from home—and the travelers from earth, who missed home, were easily led down that path.

I wrote a post about The Martian Chronicles and Solaris on June 21st, 2011. In honor of Ray Bradbury, who passed away on June 5th at the age of 91, I am including part of this post today, the part that has to do with The Martian Chronicles. Rest in peace, Ray Bradbury and thank you for your wonderful books. For those of you who have never picked up his books, now is the time to do so. 
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(Excerpted from my post The Martian Chronicles and Solaris from June 21st, 2011):
I have been a fan of science fiction since I was a teenager, probably from the time I first read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I also read Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451, and enjoyed them all. Bradbury is a thought-provoking and outstanding sci-fi writer (90 years old and still with us), and his books have a haunting quality about them. You don’t forget them easily. I don’t recall all of the stories in The Martian Chronicles in detail, just that there were certain parts that were quite scary in that what was suggested was considerably terrifying. You just knew that something terrible was going to happen to some of the earthlings who made it to Mars, and it did (the third expedition was liquidated by the Martians who posed as dead family members such that the deluded (and lonely) crew ended up just giving in to the delusions). The following passage from the chapter ‘April 2000: The Third Expedition’ is an example of the type of terror Bradbury could instill in his readers: “And wouldn’t it be horrible and terrifying to discover that all of this was part of some great clever plan by the Martians to divide and conquer us, and kill us? Sometime during the night, perhaps my brother here on this bed will change form, melt, shift and become another thing, a terrible thing, a Martian. It would be very simple for him to just turn over in bed and put a knife into my heart……..His hands were shaking under the covers. His body was cold. Suddenly it was not a theory. Suddenly he was very afraid……..Carefully he lifted the covers, rolled them back. He slipped from bed and was walking softly across the room when his brother’s voice said, ‘Where are you going?’…...’For a drink of water’. ‘But you’re not thirsty’. ‘Yes, yes, I am’. ‘No, you’re not’. Captain John Black broke and ran across the room. He screamed. He screamed twice. He never reached the door”.

This was all Bradbury wrote about the actual murder of Captain John Black and the massacres of the crew of the third expedition. You knew that murders were occurring in the rest of the Martian houses who had crew members staying with them because they were the ‘families’ of these crew members, but Bradbury didn’t have to elaborate at all about them, because it was left to our imaginations to figure out what was happening to them all. Superb sci-fi horror in a category all its own.

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