Ray Bradbury, sci-fi author of ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘Martian Chronicles,’ dies at 91

June 6, 2012 | Source: Washington Post

Ray Bradbury (1975) (credit: Alan Light/Wikimedia Commons)

Ray Bradbury, a boundlessly imaginative novelist who wrote some of the most popular science fiction books of all time, including “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles,” and who transformed the genre of flying saucers and little green men into a medium exploring childhood terrors, colonialism and the erosion of individual thought, died June 6. He was 91.

Mr. Bradbury, who began his career in the 1930s contributing stories to pulp-fiction magazines, received a special Pulitzer Prize citation in 2007 “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.”

His body of work, which continued to appear through recent years to terrific reviews, encompassed more than 500 titles, including novels, plays (“Dandelion Wine,” adapted from his 1957 semi-autobiographical novel), children’s books and short stories. His tales were often adapted for film, including the futuristic story of a book-burning society (director François Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451,” in 1966), a suspense story about childhood fears (“Something Wicked This Way Comes” in 1983) and the more straightforward alien attack story (“It Came From Outer Space” in 1953).

“Bradbury took the conventions of the science fiction genre — time travel, robots, space exploration — and made them signify beyond themselves, giving them a broader and more nuanced emotional appeal to general readers,” said William F. Touponce, a founder and former director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

“People say, ‘Are you a fantasy writer?’ No,” Mr. Bradbury told the Charlotte Observer in 1997. “ ‘Are you a science fiction writer?’ No. I’m a magician.”

He explained, “Science fiction is the art of the possible, not the art of the impossible. As soon as you deal with things that can’t happen, you are writing fantasy.”