Thursday, June 7, 2012
Yet another of my favorite authors has died, and along with him a bit of my youth. Ray Bradbury was the eternal optimist. No grim, dark, gritty futures for him. His visions were of hope and possibility, and not just about the future, but about life in general. My favorite of his books, "Dandelion Wine", contains no trace of science fiction, and in fact no trace of the fantastical at all, unless you consider, as he did, life itself to be fantastic. It is a book that resonates with me many years after I first read it in those sunny days of my youth. I'm just old enough to remember those days before personal computers and video games, where long summer nights were spent sitting on the front porch with my grandparents chatting with people who just "stopped by". Old enough to remember hunting for ancient treasures in the basement of my great grandmother's house, or wandering the overgrown paths of "The Woods" behind my grandpartents' house. Those woods, much reduce today by the coming of a Wal-Mart, were in truth not that large even back then, but they seemed to me as grand as any eleven forest. As boundless and mysterious as Toklien's Mirkwood, and as fraught with peril too. I can remember waiting eagerly for the fair to come to town and how its sounds and smells and bright lights seemed to draw the whole town to it. The excitement bargain hunting at all of the long gone shops on Main Street during Sidewalk Sales. My youth while separated from his by fifty years, still seems to hold echoes of those long lost summers that he wrote about. Bradbury's works covered the broad spectrum of what has come to be known as speculative fiction, but the underlying theme of his work was always love. All summers must end, but we can keep alive the memories of their past warmth. Bradbury cannot be replaced, but I hope that future generations of writers will take up some part of his mantle and remember the importance of love and hope in their writing.