EDITOR’S NOTE: Today marks the 95th birthday of Ray Bradbury. In remembrance, here’s an updated version of a story Entertainment Weekly published when he died four years ago…
Ray Bradbury will be remembered forever as one of America’s greatest authors, but the truth is he never wrote anything. At least, that’s how he told it.
Whenever the storyteller, who died Tuesday at age 91, was asked about the creation of his most iconic tales — like the novels Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes — Bradbury tended to say it was a mystery to him too. Bradbury said he sat down to do the typing, and the “demon” who lived inside him would start to speak.
“Everything comes to me,” he told Fox News in 2004. “Everything is my demon muse. I have a muse which whispers in my ear and says, ‘Do this, do that,’ but it’s my demon who provokes me.”
The 20th century was full of iconic writers who explored deeper parts of who we are through the genres of sci-fi and fantasy, but Bradbury stood out among them as the optimist. While many writers in these genres sent out warnings, Bradbury sent out hope. The one major dystopian exception was his most famous work – Fahrenheit 451, the story of a society where books are outlawed, and burned when found.
In an interview with The Paris Review, Bradbury acknowledged he was the happy outcast among these contemporaries. “I’m glad Kurt Vonnegut didn’t like me either,” Bradbury said of the Slaughterhouse-5 author. “He couldn’t see the world the way I see it. I suppose I’m too much Pollyanna, he was too much Cassandra.”
Although his work certainly explored darkness, he strained toward the light. He wrote in nearly every format – plays, television, and even some movies, most notably John Huston’s adaptation of Moby Dick. He was a friend of Walt Disney’s and helped design Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT center.
What he’ll be most remembered for are the words he committed to the page, an old-fashioned legacy he would surely love. Here’s a sampling of great moments from those classic stories – as told to Ray Bradbury by the demon who lived inside him.
- “The Rocket”
- “A Sound of Thunder”
- Dandelion Wine
- Fahrenheit 451
- “I Sing the Body Electric”
- Something Wicked This Way Comes
- The Martian Chronicles
- “The Illustrated Man”
- The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
- From the Dust Returned
- NEXT PAGE: Venture to another world via Bradbury’s ‘The Rocket’