Iconic author Ray Bradbury, known mostly for his legendary novel Fahrenheit 451, has passed away at the age of 91. Bradbury’s death was confirmed Wednesday morning by his daughter, who stated that he passed Tuesday night of a lengthy illness. Bradbury has published over 27 novels and a whopping 600 short stories. He is almost entirely responsible for the revitalization of the sci-fi genre, which previously had a reputation that was not as glowing as other genres of literature. But despite his known work as a science fiction writer, he often rejected that claim, not because he didn’t like or appreciate the genre, but because he felt it was inaccurate when it came to most of his work.
He’s often quoted as saying, “I’m not a science fiction writer. I’ve written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451”]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can’t happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.” Regardless of what genre he’s most identifiable in, his writing forever changed the fictional and fantastical, paving the way for generations of readers and writers to come.
My first encounter with Bradbury came in the form of a 9th grade reading project. Our class was assigned to read and analyze Fahrenheit 451, a novel that, up to that point, I had only heard about and never read. I was almost sure I was going to hate it. I was still in that “I’m too cool for school reading” phase, but that quickly faded as soon as I started reading. The dystopian society portrayed in Bradbury’s novel is so poetically portrayed that it’s almost impossible to put down.
Losing Bradbury is almost as tough as losing JD Salinger, my favorite author, who passed away a couple of years ago. What they had in common was the way they revolutionized modern literature for the better. Science fiction and fantasy were never the same after Bradbury stepped on the scene, and they’ll never be the same again.
Check out a video of Ray Bradbury and Hugh Hefner talking about the origins of “Fahrenheit 451”: