Science fiction author Ray Bradbury dead at 91

Bradbury in a 2008 portrait session.

Ray Bradbury, a giant of American literature who helped popularize science fiction with works such as “The Martian Chronicles,” died on Tuesday at age 91, his publisher said on Wednesday.

Bradbury published more than 500 works including “Fahrenheit 451,” a classic novel about book censorship in a future society, and other favorites such as “The Illustrated Man” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

“Mr. Bradbury died peacefully, last night, in Los Angeles, after a long illness,” said a spokesman for his publisher, HarperCollins.

As a science fiction writer, Bradbury said he did not want to predict the future — but sometimes wanted to prevent it. Such was the case with 1953′s “Fahrenheit 451,” the story of a totalitarian, anti-intellectual society where banned books are burned by “firemen.” The title refers to the temperature at which paper ignites.

The novel, which Bradbury wrote on a rented typewriter at the UCLA library, featured a world that might sound familiar to 21st century readers — wall-sized interactive televisions, earpiece communication systems, omnipresent advertising and political correctness.

“In science fiction, we dream,” he told The New York Times. “In order to colonize in space, to rebuild our cities … to tackle any number of problems, we must imagine the future, including the new technologies that are required …

“Science fiction is also a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when in reality you are attacking the recent past and the present.”

But for a futurist, Bradbury did not always embrace technology. He called the Internet a scam perpetrated by computer companies, was disdainful of automatic teller machines and denounced video games as “a waste of time for men with nothing else to do.”

Bradbury brought not only futuristic vision but literary sensibilities to science fiction and fantasy writing. His interest in writing began as a boy and even in his later years he liked to write daily — whether it was a novel, a short story, a screenplay or a poem.

“The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me,” he said on his 80th birthday.

Bradbury’s classic short story “The Pedestrian” is below:

Pedestrian by Bradbury 1


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