Science fiction was my favorite literary form for many years and one of my favorite sci-fi writers is Ray Bradbury. He died this week at age 91. You might be familiar with his novels like Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes or his short story collections like The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. He also wrote screenplays, essays and poems. His work inspired television shows, movies and comic books.

Like many people, I call him a science fiction writer but he describes his own work as “fantasy”, which he says depicts the unreal, while sci-fi depicts the real. Interesting distinction. He also wrote detective mysteries in later years and was still writing essays as recently as a week before his death. He died during the ‘transit of Venus’. Hmmm.

I am both curious and inspired by writers and their lives. One thing that stands out in Bradbury’s life is that he didn’t go to college. Instead he spent all of his free time in libraries and claims to have read every book in one of them. My love of learning and of writing came about partly as a result of spending time in libraries in my own youth, although my results aren’t nearly in the league of his. Interesting side note: much of the plot of Something Wicked This Way Comes involves a small-town library. I just re-read that novel last year and am planning to re-read Martian Chronicles soon.

There is much more to be said about him and any Google search will point the way. While doing my own search for background info to write this post I found a few interesting quotes attributed to Bradbury. I’ll leave you with these:

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.

Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

My stories run up and bite me on the leg - I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.