In its obituary the New York Times said was “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream."
One of his many inspiring quotes was, "If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."
Bradbury’s books and 600 short stories were fantasy, science fiction and even horror. His famous dystopian Fahrenheit 451 depicts a world where books are outlawed. “451” is the degree when paper burns. The novel has been the subject of many different interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning and suppressing dissent and increased government censorship. But it’s also a story about how television destroys the interest in reading and where a society is reduced to sound bites and partial information devoid of historical context.
His publisher said Wednesday Bradbury "died peacefully, last night, in Los Angeles, after a lengthy illness," HarperCollins said in a written statement.
"In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create," the statement said. "A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time."
Bradbury wrote the screenplay for John Huston's classic film adaptation of "Moby Dick." He adapted 65 of his stories for television's "The Ray Bradbury Theater" and won an Emmy for his teleplay of "The Halloween Tree."
"In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back." he wrote in a book of essays published in 2005. "Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior."
Bradbury received the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts and a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Bradbury lived in Los Angeles since his family moved there from his native Waukegan, Illinois, to look for work during the Great Depression.
A writer’s inspiration
Good writers were usually avid readers in their youth, and Bradbury had the influence of many of the best. Among his favorites were Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and depicted Waukegan as "Green Town" in some of his other semi-autobiographical novels—Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer—as well as in many of his short stories.and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury was especially impressed with Poe's ability to draw readers into his works. In fact his first paid piece of writing was called Pendulum with a tip of his hat to E.A. Poe. Burroughs wrote the novels of Tarzan of the Apes and The Warlord of Mars. He spent many hours at the local library in Waukegan, Ill. reading, and he used a library as a setting for much of his novel
Even though Bradbury was a futurist he was skeptical of technology which was evident in "Fahrenheit 451", so it’s not surprising he was not convinced of the value of the internet and the society it spawns. He stated it had reduced people’s ability to communicate and hold conversations, and he resisted having his works marketed as e-books stating:
"We have too many cell phones. We've got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now."
Bradbury’s generation grew up holding books, and letting go of the experience was incomprehensible. But we have managed to advance from clay tablets and papyrus over the centuries and no doubt the next generation will look at hard cover books as relics of the past. But then—as romantics usually do—they might seek out those dusty spines from the past and attempt to re-live the experience of their ancestors in an attempt to understand themselves and make sense of the world they have created.