The writing of Ray Bradbury has spanned nearly seven decades, but remains timeless. He has dabbled in science fiction, fantasy, essays, screenplays and more. His most famous works include: The Martian Chronicles (1950), a collection of short stories that explore man’s colonization of Mars from the years 1999 to 2026; and Fahrenheit 451 (1953), a novel about censorship set in a mythical future in which books are banned and firemen are sent to burn them if found. The title is significant because that is the temperature at which paper catches fire. Mr. Bradbury considers this his favorite work and, among other honors, it was chosen by the mayor of Los Angeles for their One Book, One City reading program. This means that the mayor suggested that the entire city read Fahrenheit 451 at the same time!
Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1934, where he graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938. Nine years later he married his wife, Maggie. They had four daughters and were happily married for 56 years until Maggie’s passing in 2003. Mr. Bradbury continues to write nearly everyday.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview my hero over the telephone.
Christian: Mr. Bradbury, I’m looking at my book shelf right now and I have a bunch of your books on it.
RB: “Well, you have good taste.”
Christian: Mr. Bradbury, most people now consider you the last great science fiction legend. What do you consider yourself?
RB: “Oh, I’m not a science fiction writer, I’m a fantasy writer. The better term is fantasy because I can make people believe anything.”
Christian: What do you want to be remembered for in the future?
RB: “I want to be remembered as a lover. I loved everything that I did. I’m a lover of ideas, all kinds of ideas.”
Christian: You often talk about the need for a better education for children. What do you think needs to be done?
RB: “Well, that’s the problem of the United States right now. There are no other problems, it’s education. We need to start teaching kids from the first grade and kindergarten how to write. All the money should go into kindergarten right now. They should be taught how to read and write. They’ve got to learn how to read and write or they can’t be educated.”
Ray Bradbury is a hero because his writing can reach out across time and space to touch readers. His most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, warns us what could happen if reading and writing were banned. It’s important for our future that we keep on sharing the ability to read and write.