News / Arts & Entertainment

    Science Fiction Icon Ray Bradbury Dies at 91

    A November 2000 file photo shows science fiction writer Ray Bradbury at the National Book Awards in New York.
    A November 2000 file photo shows science fiction writer Ray Bradbury at the National Book Awards in New York.
    Iconic science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury died Tuesday in California at the age of 91.

    Bradbury, who wrote the classic Fahrenheit 451, about a totalitarian future when books are burned, and more than two dozen other novels and 600 short stories, was probably more instrumental than any other 20th century American author in popularizing, and legitimizing, science fiction and fantasy.

    Born in a small town in Illinois in 1920, he read popular publications with titles like Weird Tales, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Astounding Science Fiction.

    At an early age he resolved that, lacking athletic talents, he would stop competing with his peers and instead do what gave him the most pleasure: reading and writing. He was 12 when he set himself the goal of writing at least four hours a day, a practice that stayed with him throughout his lifetime. He published his first story in Weird Tales when he was 20.

    Ray Bradbury recalled in an interview that his parents were poor and he never attended college.

    “But I had enough sense when I was 18-years old to start going to the library five or six nights a week," he said. "Every morning I wrote. Every afternoon I sold newspapers on the street corner, and I graduated from the library when I was 28 years old.”

    That love of libraries stayed with him throughout his life, and in a 2010 interview with the U.S. State Department he said, "what I think I can teach people is that a library is more important than a college or university."

    An autodidact
    At first he wrote short stories, which by his own description were "unconventional tales of ghosts and haunts."

    He was inspired with tales of Mars by the adventure and science fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. But Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, published in 1950, was a social commentary that dealt with current issues: the threat of nuclear war, racism, pollution, censorship, and out-of-control technology.

    His love of books and aversion to censorship were the basis for what became his best known work, Fahrenheit 451, a slim 1953 novel about a fireman whose job is to burn books, but who joins an underground group devoted to memorizing the classics in order to preserve them. The book was made into a movie in 1966, starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner.

    Some ideas for Bradbury's stories and poems came from his vast collection of mementos. Magazines, toys, costumes, all kinds of souvenirs going back to his childhood years cluttered the room in his home that he used as an office. In an interview with CBS news, he said he refused to throw any of them away.

    "You never know where you are going to get an idea, and really these are metaphors as I look around at them, and one by one, I pick up on them," he said. "I say, 'that would make a short story.' So I begin to type, I put nouns on the paper. I describe some of these toys. Next thing you know I have a short story. So I've learned not to throw things away because that's what a writer is, a collector of objects, symbols, metaphors. Call them what you will, but you never know when something here is going to turn into another story."

    Bradbury wrote for radio and television, and published collections of his poems and essays.

    His advice for those who, like him, aspire to become writers: “Do what you love, and love what you do."

    Genre-busting legacy
    His admirers have called him an inspired and prolific voice in many genres, and literary critics have said it is misleading to call Ray Bradbury simply a science fiction writer.

    Scientist and fellow author Isaac Asimov called Bradbury a writer of "social fiction," and Bradbury once described his own writings as "speculative fiction."

    For all of his tales about science, technology and the future, however, Bradbury often shunned conveniences of modern-day life.

    He refused to drive a car, explaining he witnessed an automobile accident as a young man that left him forever terrified of driving. And for much of his life he refused to fly in airplanes.

    He also had a lingering distrust of computers. In his State Department interview, he said the information available to people on computers "is not quite the same as the information you get in a library," adding that if he had his way, "I would burn the computers and not the libraries."

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    New in Music Alley

    Soul Lounge: Sweet Honey in the Rocki
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 10, 2016 1:48 PM
    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B. The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.

    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B.   The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.