Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury remembered...


“The October Country” is perhaps the most frightening book I ever read – forget all the jumping out from behind things, zombies and ghosts that make for horror these days, Ray Bradbury was the master. To take you from idyllic, almost perfectly described Elysium to abject terror in one short story – that is writing.

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

The reports of Bradbury’s death will doubtless speak mostly of “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles” – great science fiction. For me Ray Bradbury’s work was far closer to that small town horror we now associate with Stephen King – tales of growing up, loose autobiographical references interlaced with scares, spells and magics. And all written so tightly, with a painful beauty.

I shall go read them again – “Dandelion Wine”, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and all those wonderful short stories. It would be the best way to remember a great writer who gave us magic, fantasy and science fiction rooted in the lives of ordinary people and showed how that so-often dismissed “genre” fiction is about more than spaceships or dragons.



Leg-iron said...

That was the book that started me writing my own tales of woe and gloom. No need for all that gore and mess, sometimes all you need is a conversation.

I lost my copy years ago, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

As a teenager taking English Literature in the 1960s, Fahrenheit 451, The Chrysalids and War of the Worlds were the set books in a sci-fi themed year.

451 stood out as not only being a good read but having a strong message, well delivered.

RIP Ray B - a wordsmith who made you think.