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A message posted on Ray Bradbury’s website recounts a 1932 meeting the author had with Mr. Electrico, a carnival magician who commanded Bradbury to live forever.
Sadly, Bradbury’s quest to do that ended on Wednesday. The iconic science fiction writer passed away at 91 following a long illness. But his contributions to American literature and culture will live on for eternity.
It’s difficult to measure the impact an author has. His Emmy award, National Medal of Arts and special citation from the Pulitzer Board are a good indication, but Bradbury leaves behind a legacy that is more than awards. Crediting Bradbury with keeping the United States out of a nuclear war might be a stretch, but There Will Come Soft Rains certainly played a role in enlightening the public on what a desolate post-apocalyptic landscape might look like. Nor is Fahrenheit 451 the only reason people still read, but his depiction of a world without books has for 60 years compelled readers to step back and appreciate the simple but essential nature of literacy.
These might sound like small things, but if a single crushed butterfly can alter distant futures, as it did in A Sound of Thunder, then Bradbury’s works have reshaped society, and they will continue to transform each of us and the world we live in for years to come.
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