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Ray Bradbury, 1920–2012

Ray Bradbury, author of the science-fiction classics The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, among other works, died today in Los Angeles after a lengthy illness, the Los Angeles Times reports. He was 91.

Golden-eyed Martians, supernatural carnies and secret book lovers in a society hostile to the printed word were all inhabitants of Bradbury’s rich and imaginative universe. And although the dreamlike quality of his prose often left reality far behind, the author’s penchant for tapping the wonder that underlies the scientific enterprise — and blending it with the uneasiness created by the accelerating pace of technological change — won him many fans among scientists and scientists-to-be, from the 1940s on.

A recipient of the US National Medal of Arts, Bradbury managed to transcend the rockets-and-rayguns style of science-fiction prose that characterized his era with works that held resonance in popular culture long after the science depicted in them had moved on. Bradbury will be remembered for holding up a futuristic mirror to civilization and asking how science and technology shape human identity.  In doing so, he put his readers in a position not unlike that of the family that appears in the final scene of The Martian Chronicles: traipsing across a deserted Mars, the Earthlings peer down into an ancient canal and finally see the elusive ‘Martians’ looking back at them — in the form of their own reflections.

Numerous tributes have appeared online today. In this interview for The Paris Review, Bradbury discusses his work and influences.


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