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07 June 2012

He Sung the Body Electric: RIP Ray Bradbury

Naturally, the net is abuzz with the news that Ray Bradbury passed on. To say that his work has been influential on me is beyond understatement. "Something Wicked This Way Comes" gave my consciousness a good kick in the pants when I first read it, and I think "Halloween Tree" should be recommended reading for every young person. I have had the pleasure not only of reading his work, but also of hearing recordings of him reading his own stories, listening to dramatizations of his work in OTR show like "X Minus One" and seeing him host television adaptations of his stories in "Ray Bradbury Theatre".  Actually, I don't think there's a medium I enjoy where I haven't encountered Bradbury at some point.
I still find myself turning to Bradbury time and again, most often when I'm looking to experience that wistful, bittersweet sentimentality of which he was clearly a master.  I don't think there's an October that passes without my breaking open at least one of his stories, and knowing that there's still a lot of his work I haven't read, I don't know that there ever will be such an October.

 In his collection "Quicker Than the Eye", Bradbury had a story, "Last Rites", in which a time traveler visits famous authors on their deathbed to see them off with the knowledge their work would long outlive them and move readers for generations to come.  While I cannot see that an author like Bradbury was unaware of his own effect on literature, I do like to fancy that in his final days he was blessed with a time traveler of his own.  Certainly if any author in this last century deserved such a visit, it was him.

"I give you my hand on it, and pledge my soul and my heart's blood." The visitor
moved to do just this, and the two men's fists fused as one. "Take these gifts
to the grave. Count these pages like a rosary in your last hours. Tell no one
where they came from. Scoffers would knock the ritual beads from your fingers.
So tell this rosary in the dark before dawn, and the rosary is this: you will
live forever. You are immortal."

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