The literary world is mourning the loss of author Ray Bradbury, who died on Tuesday at his southern California home at the age of 91.
Bradbury wrote a plethora of works, including horror, mystery and humour in the form of novels, screenplays, plays and poetry, but it was his works of science fiction which truly define him. His 1953 release Fahrenheit 451 remains Bradbury’s most celebrated work and a science fiction classic to this day. Inspired by the Cold War, the rising popularity of television and Bradbury’s own love of libraries, the novel creates a frightening, technology-obsessed and Apocalyptic future in which books are banned and burned (I know, I know… it’s the stuff of nightmare, isn’t it?). The novel was made into a successful film in 1966.
Fahrenheit 451 predicted ideas and technologies which have now come to pass, including iPods, interactive television and electronic surveillance, and it is interesting that Bradbury himself resisted the release of the novel in e-book form for years. He claimed e-book readers smelled ‘like burned fuel,’ called the Internet a ‘big distraction’ and encouraged readers to return to the traditional and well loved reading materials of ink and paper. In 2011, when rights to the novel were renewed and could not go ahead without e-book rights as well, he relented, but not before receiving a special promise from his publisher, Simon & Schuster: that the e-book would be available in libraries. The promise was honoured, and Fahrenheit 451 was the only Simon & Schuster e-book available for download by library users at that time.
After an amazing career stretching back to the 1940’s, Ray Bradbury will be remembered as a prolific and masterful writer.
“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,” director Steven Spielberg said in a statement. “He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal.”