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Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
I’m teaching summer school right now, and I have several students in my room reading Fahrenheit 451 to make up some English credit. I interrupted their reading, though, to let them know that the man who wrote the book they are holding in their hands has passed away.
Although he had a very long and productive life, there will be many mourning his passing. He was one of the most significant writers of the 20th century and had a particular appeal to boys at that critical age of adolescence.
I remember one summer in my teenage years when I immersed myself in the man’s short stories. There were a lot of great ones, but one in particular has a special place in my heart. “The Rocket” takes place in the future, when rockets are able to take passengers to other worlds. The story is about a poor junkyard owner who has always dreamed of going into space, but can’t afford it. He doesn’t want his kids to be denied that opportunity as well, so he uses all his savings to fix up a rocket prototype in his junkyard and give his children a one-time experience they will never forget. The mother is afraid that if he attempts to actually build a working rocket he’ll kill them all, but the father actually has other plans. It’s a beautiful tale about a father’s his love for his children and his desire for them to have a better life.
I think that story illustrates what made Ray Bradbury such a wonderful and timeless writer. Many other science fiction authors write about rockets, time travel, and other fantastic technology, while Bradbury wrote about people. His stories just happen to include those other things as well.
Ray Bradbury is a great writer. I have read much of his work.