Yesterday the world lost one of the most influential and prolific writers of all time. Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91, leaving behind a legacy that reached beyond any one genre. It’s hard to find somebody that one of his stories didn’t touch in some way. He was an irreplaceable wordsmith whose stories wrote themselves on your skin.
I was a bit of a late-comer when it came to his work. Sure, the film adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes had scared the crap out of me at a young age, and I knew the burning point of paper down to the degree, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I really come to know his work. I was working at Buck’s Rock Camp in Connecticut, and that summer in particular, I had signed on to help open and close the camp—a job mostly involving the eviction of rodents from the bunks and minor repair projects. It was while clearing a squirrel’s nest out from behind a mirror, that I found my first copy of the Bradbury collection, The Illustrated Man.
With not much to do during off-time, I made that book my hobby, and it, in turn, did the same. It’s one of the very few that I can say really changed me. I’ll never forget how truly alien and surreal the Martian Chronicles felt, and The Fox in the Forest is still one of my favorite time travel tales. In drawing this tribute, I realized that the doomed astronaut from Kaleidoscope would be a tattoo I’d actually consider getting.
More recently, I discovered it was one of Audrey’s favorite books, and we bonded over the same stories. When she and I had first met, we discovered that she had gone to Buck’s Rock as a teenager back in 1996 (right about that age where you should be reading Bradbury). To compound the coincidence, it turned out that she had lost her copy of The Illustrated Man there. I entertained the idea that the book I found was hers, and that it had passed from owner to owner over the years, lying in empty bunks, somehow avoiding a fate as a mouse nest, and waiting for the next curious passerby to pick it up. Though between that summer in 2006 and meeting her, I too lost track of the book, making it impossible to confirm or deny my suspicion.
I hope somebody is reading it somewhere.
On a lighter note (NSFW).