Mr. Ray Bradbury died on June 5, 2012.  It’s been a year since he left us with a legacy of books and stories, some of which have been made into movies and TV episodes (check out Ray Bradbury Theater on Amazon or YouTube).  In this blog entry I’m not going to recap his life story.  Mostly I’m going to share my own thoughts and feelings on the man from what I saw of him in his works.

Mr. Bradbury could capture the imagination in ways not many authors can.  I’m a huge fan of his short story anthologies, as well as his more lengthy works.  But it was those short stories that always captured my attention the most.  I’ve not done many myself, but I’m hoping to expand eventually.  I’m afraid I’m one of those authors who feels he has a big story to tell most of the time.  Perhaps I just haven’t come up with the right character(s) to be the voice or focus of some short stories.  I’ve got one or two in mind but I have to learn a bit more about who they are and what some of their short stories are like first.

But Mr. Bradbury’s style and ability to create characters and situations never ceased to amaze me.  He could take us to other planets, some nice others not, and allow us to meet people who were people.  They had foibles and shortcomings, a sense of duty, dreams, hopes, laughter and tears.  He had a way of making us feel the depths of these characters emotions and make us ask “How would I handle a situation like that?” without even trying.  Whether we were going to an alien planet with a cynical captain and discover that Jesus Christ had been seen there (title of the story is “The Man”), or a world that would literally love and grant you anything you wished but could turn hostile if you disrespected her (“Here There Be Tygers”),  or even taking on the prospects of reverse racism (“The Other Shoe”), he could make the readers wonder about themselves and the world around them.

But he wasn’t just about science fiction.  He could do contemporary with the best of them.  His exploration into childhood could be very moving and evoke emotions from your past with the skill of a master.  “The Sound of Summer Running” is a short that really took me back to summer days and sneakers.  How did a new pair of sneakers that were just right, feel to you?  Did you could believe you would run faster or jump higher than ever before?  What about the excitement of racing around in the front yards with your friends during those summer evenings, how did that used to feel for you?  Did you play kick the can, or hide and go seek, as the evening shadows slowly stretched and night fell?  I always loved to play then because the game became more interesting and exciting thanks to the added difficulty of the approaching dark.  And he brought all this back to me in that one little story.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that he was brilliant at conveying the human experience (for good or for bad).  There’s a charm to his work that can pull out emotions, memories or even contemplations from the  reader.  Part of this is because a lot of his characters are easy to relate to.  You can almost see yourself or people you know in them, making you feel more at home with them.

So raise a glass of Dandelion Wine or whatever your preferred beverage is and offer up a thanks to a man who gave us so much.  He’s left a lot of works behind for us to explore and enjoy, so if you get a chance to go to your local library check out a book or two of his.  You’ll be glad you did.

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