Reading for the first time Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham for the inaugural meeting of the A.C.I.B.C. (Hello, N.!) and struck once again by how good good science fiction writing can be with universal truths taken so matter-of-factly.

One of literature’s greats, not just in science fiction, died this morning. Ray Bradbury, born in Waukegan, Ill. but a Los Angeles resident since he was 13, is most famously known for writing Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. He began writing in earnest when he was rejected for the military during the Second World War.

Bradbury had his first stories published in the late 1930s in science fiction/fantasy magazines but his career really took off a decade later when he met Christopher Isherwood, the influential critic, at a Los Angeles bookstore. Isherwood raved about the book Bradbury gave him, The Martian Chronicles, and compared Bradbury to Edgar Allan Poe.

My favourite of Ray Bradbury’s works has always been his collection of short stories in Dandelion Wine. The 12-year-old narrator Douglas (Ray Bradbury’s middle name) Spaulding had a voice that stays with you, forever wise, forever young. There was one line in Dandelion Wine about a character’s plan to live a life of adventure which included “fall off a cliff but get caught in a tree halfway down.”

I remember this passage best: “Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I am one of them.”

Thanks Mr. Bradbury.


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