A Small Tribute to Ray Bradbury

When I was in junior high, the one class I dreaded most was reading. That might be surprising to anyone who knows me or even anyone who knew me back then. After all, I have always been an avid reader, and I still have a great fondness for many of the books my teachers introduced me to in elementary school.

But junior high reading lists did not inspire much enthusiasm from me. I remember being mostly bored by them, and because I now feel bad about trashing other people's writing simply because it didn't interest me, I won't mention the titles of the works I most loathed. That being said, I spent much of the my time in junior high combing the school library for books that interested me, unlike the books we read in class.

I dreaded reading class until one day in 7th grade, I was assigned to read Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. I remember being given a choice of 3-4 science fiction books. I showed my parents the list, and my dad suggested Bradbury, saying he had read some of his books and really liked them. I eagerly chose the book, glad to find something that would give me a connection to my dad. I always liked books, but Martian Chronicles quickly became my favorite. The stories were so imaginative and well written. I can still remember the intense suspense I felt when I first read "The Third Expedition." I read and reread the book, and it inspired me to read other Bradbury works although Martian Chronicles would remain my favorite. Later in high school, I wrote a research paper about Bradbury, and I was ecstatic when I discovered that we would be assigned to read Fahrenheit 451. It still remains my favorite dystopian novel.

I assume that many Bradbury fans are fans of science fiction in general. I must say that while I have always loved fantasy, I never felt the same draw to science fiction. There are certain works that appealed to me, but it wasn't the sci-fi that made me love Bradbury. Rather, it was the humanity and the poetry in his works. The ending of Fahrenheit 451 moved me. The Martian Chronicles made me empathize with the Martians and simultaneously fear them. Bradbury is one of the 20th century's most imaginative writers, but in my opinion, he is also one of its best craftsmen. Furthermore, he always struck me as gracious, humble, and accessible.

So thank you, Mr. Bradbury for igniting in me a love for literature. Your stories have entertained me for years, but more importantly you have enriched my life. If your nightmare vision of the future ever comes true, and books eventually become illegal items to be burned, yours will be at the top of my contraband stash when the firemen come to get me.

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