I just read that Ray Bradbury has died. Obviously he passed at an advanced age, so I will not be sad, so much as think about how much I owe the man. He wrote a large amount and I haven’t read half of it, but Fahrenheit 451 is one of the handful of true classics among dystopian novels, so of course that was an influence on my own work.
Also, in my opinion, Bradbury was a master of the short story. Notice, I didn’t qualify that by saying “science fiction” short story. Although his stories did include sci-fi settings like Mars and rockets, these stories demonstrated the resonant, psychological quality of timeless myths more than a fascination with technology, and they stand simply as great storytelling. At least, I’ve never read anyone who did short stories better. Poe was an equal and an influence, but not better.
Perhaps even more than Fahrenheit, it was reading Bradbury’s 1950s short stories—some written quickly on a rented typewriter—that captured my imagination and still influence me as a fiction writer. Many stories found in The Illustrated Man and other collections still seem like the stuff of magic to me.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Bradbury. You’ve left me a lot of reading to do, and much to think about.