Ray Bradbury dead at 91; SF still misunderstood

Ray Bradbury is dead: “Ray Bradbury — author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and many more literary classics — died this morning in Los Angeles …”

Since I do not worship at his literary altar, I will not say anything, save this: the Washington Post writer of Mr. Bradbury’s obituary, one Becky Krystal, seems to have flatlined on the old EEG before writing the obit.

Of course, we can expect the endless, simpering fanboy mouth-breathing and/or snooty hauteur from the dreckwriters of today, talking about “sci-fi” and “spec fic,” and making the usual idiot slurs and belittlements against the genre. But Ms. Krystal’s opening sentence ought to win some sort of award for literary cluelessness and sheer obtuse opacity above and beyond the call of duty. Here’s the relevant portion:

… who transformed the genre of flying saucers and little green men into a medium exploring childhood terrors, colonialism and the erosion of individual thought …

No. Not hardly. Not likely. Not at all. Bradbury was many things, but he did NOT transform science fiction, nor did he change it from a tacky cheapjack form with borderline pornographic covered paperbacks and pulp magazines  into something literary and respectable.

He himself became literary and respectable, and was a great commercial success as a crossover, but Bradbury is NOT a transformative figure in science fiction, did not fundamentally alter its direction, nor invent some new form — and the implicit slur against the genre and the implication that Bradbury’s protean writing single-handedly saved it from the gutter is idiot nonsense from someone who evidently hasn’t the foggiest idea what she’s obituarying about.

Bradbury is to science fiction as Stephen King is to horror novels.

The cause of death remains unspecified, but I would not doubt that the late Mr. Bradbury asphyxiated under the sheer weight of reams of penny dreadful poetry. (And we shall pass over his tea party politics.)

If you loved Ray Bradbury’s writing and cherish it as a special memory of your childhood, please disregard that last paragraph.

He was 91.

Gerald Jonas at the New York Times does a pretty good literary assessment, which you ought to read.

Otherwise, with that small correction regarding the SF&F genre vis a vis Mr. Bradbury’s transformative literariness, I am herein concluded.

As is Ray.

Now, I’m going to go and check on the giant mushrooms I’m growing in the basement.

And it’s the 68th anniversary of D-Day.



A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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