On June 5th, 2012, we lost one of the greatest writers of our time: Ray Bradbury. He lived to the impressive age of 91, and continued to write and do signings and readings well into his eighties. He is perhaps best known for some of the most important science fiction novels of the twentieth century, such as The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, which continue to be read not just by fans, but by high school students across the country. One of the early pioneers of science fiction, up there with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, his short stories are unique and unforgettable. The short story was Bradbury’s true forte, with his incredible ability to encapsulate so much within a limited number of pages. His lyrical prose, compelling characters, and moving plots made him a writer not just to be categorized in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, but to be enjoyed by mainstream readers across the globe.
I got to meet Ray Bradbury at a signing and reading in the fall of 1999. It was at California State University Long Beach, where I was currently working through the second semester of my Bachelor’s. Coincidentally, it was also the first date with this new girl I’d met recently; that girl has been with me ever since, and this year we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. The reading took place in the university theater and my wife had been asked to control the spotlight, which was a great bit of hands on experience for her lighting class. As we sat there in the booth, watching and listening to the great Ray Bradbury talk, I can remember being torn between showing my interest in this new girl in my life, but also wanting to listen to this incredible writer talk. It was an intimate moment in every sense of the work. At the end of the reading, my wife got her book signed, as well as one for her dad, who had introduced this great author to her at a young age. It was a very special event I shall never forget.