©2014 VICE Media LLC

    The VICE Channels

      Do You Know Who Ray Bradbury Was?

      June 6, 2012
      From the column 'Question of the Day'

      Ray Bradbury just died at the age of 91. Bradbury wrote what was generally called science fiction back in the era when the genre was full of new ideas but full of generally awful prose, and he distinguished himself from the field by being a real stylist—his books and stories are full of lyrical, sometimes flowery lines and paragraphs. He was also a romantic in the best sense of the word, championing things like books and libraries and belief and imagination, concepts which it's really easy to be cynical about these days. Unlike other well-known sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Bradbury didn't have much of a science background and didn't worry about explaining the science behind any of his concepts—his stories read like dreams, or the imaginings of a bookish child. He lived for 91 years, which is a long time, but it's still a bummer to realize he's dead. Anyway, as bummed out as we were, we decided to walk around Manhattan and see if anyone else was feeling down.

      Do you know Ray Bradbury? He died today, he was 91. 
      Lane, immigrations court clerk: That's a good age, he was around long enough to influence a lot of people.

      Are you familiar with his work?
      I don't remember the name of it, but I do remember something about Santa Clause dying on a planet someplace because no one believed in him anymore. 

      Wow, that's sad.
      Yes, very sad. 

      Are you a fan of Ray Bradbury?
      Ronald, "doesn't do anything": Yes, I liked the Star Trek episode he wrote. 

      What Star Trek episode?
      The episode was one of the best, it was "The Guardian of Forever." It was about this thing you stepped through into a different time, into the past. [Note: Ray Bradbury did not write any Star Trek episodes. The episode dude is talking about is called "The City on the Edge of Forever."]

      How did his work influence science fiction?
      He was a very good writer, he added a lot to the genre that would have never been conceived, like time travel. He had an idea of what he wanted to say before he started writing. [Note: H.G. Wells's The Time Machine predates any of Bradbury's work by decades.]

      Do you like any of his other writing?
      Well I liked that story he wrote for Star Trek and that was really all. [Note: Again, this is not something that existed. Maybe he's thinking of Harlan Ellison?]

      Are you a Ray Bradbury fan?
      Melvina, student: Sorry, who?   

      He wrote Fahrenheit 451
      Oh yeah, the one with the book burning? Yeah I read that in high school. 

      Any thoughts on it? 
      I remember I read it and I really liked it, and we watched the movie too. 

      Are you a Ray Bradbury fan? He died today. 
      William, advocate for the mentally ill and disabled: Ah man, I loved his books. How old was he? 

      Ninety-one.
      Wow, where did he die? 

      I think at home. 
      I want to say he was a great man, a very intelligent writer, I'm looking forward to seeing his books out on the shelves more now. Him and Isaac Asimov, those are the two I admire. He's right up there with Isaac Asimov. 

      Catherine, retired television producer: Who? 

      He was a science fiction writer. 
      Oh, I love science fiction, what did he write? 

      He wrote The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451.
      Oh that one, I know that one. I don't remember if I read it, but there was a movie made of it. 

      :(

      Are you a Ray Bradbury fan?
      John, math professor: Yes, I am. 

      He died today. 
       Well he was certainly a pioneer, nobody combined the science fiction ethos with great writing like he did. 

      Which of his works did you enjoy most? 
      The Martian Chronicles. I had never read anything like it, it was eye-opening. 

      Are you a Ray Bradbury fan?
      Andrew, host of Liars' League NYC: Yes. 

      He died today. Any comments? 
      Ray Bradbury has been a massive inspiration for me, I grew up reading his short stories when I was younger. I'm a writer today and he continues to be an inspiration. 

      What works of his have you enjoyed?
      His book Zen in the Art of Writing is a fantastic guide for any writer today, and in particular his short story "In a Season of Calm Weather" is definitely worth reading for anyone who can get their hands on it. I think that he absolutely transcended the science fiction genre and was a master of the short story craft. There are some books that simply speak to everyone. 

      Previously - What Sort of Person Wants to Bone You?

      -

      Topics: ray bradbury, Question of the Day, Fahrenheit 451, science fiction, Martian Chronicles, star trek

      Comments