Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Remembering Ray Bradbury

There are a handful of writers and thinkers who have influenced me over the years, and Ray Bradbury was among my favorites. Sadly, we have learned today that the world lost the literary giant. He was 91.

I first met Ray Bradbury in the 1980s and saw him speak a number of times over the years here in Southern California. He was a gifted writer, and equally inspiring when sharing stories with a large and genuinely-enthusiastic crowd. I'll never forget one of the first times I met him. I was working for the City of Huntington Beach and actually helping coordinate an event where he was the featured story. I saw a limo pull up outside the building where he was going to give the keynote address. We walked into the elevator together and it was two of us who rode it up a few floors.

He reached out and shook my hand. "Hello, I'm Ray Bradbury." I took his hand and likely delivered a somewhat less impressive introduction. I may have even muttered something about having got to meet him before. Ever gracious, he even allowed me to position my cassette recorder on the podium to record his talk.

I had been formally introduced to his wonderful works courtesy of Mrs. Miller, who taught a science fiction class that was my favorite class in the 7th grade. Even earlier in my life, while I was sick and at a treatment facility for sick children, one instructor had read a group of us kids his amazing short story "Frost and Fire."

The last time I saw him speak was at a Barnes and Noble store in Huntington Beach a few years ago. I'm glad my wife got to come to. Although Mr. Bradbury had obviously suffered a stroke, he still spoke with the fire and passion that drove him throughout his long life and signed books for everybody who waited in line.

Throughout my life, I read and was always inspired by Ray Bradbury's imagination and enjoyed the 1983 movie adaptation of his book "Something Wicked This Way Comes." But it are the author's amazing stories that filled "The Illustrated Man," "The Martian Chronicles," "R is for Rocket" and countless others volumes that I hope will continue to inspire readers for generations to come.


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