Ray Bradbury died June 5, 2012, 10 years ago today.
As you might expect if you’ve spent more than 5 minutes with me, that one hit me hard. I always wanted to be Ray Bradbury when I grew up, or Paul Harvey, or Lester Dent, or e.e. cummings … but mostly Ray Bradbury.
I wanted to run all over town with my brand new sneakers and fly to Mars and stop Montag from burning all those books and try not to step on the butterfly while all this was happening. And of course I wanted to live forever with Mr. Electrico, but not even Ray was able to do that, although he had a very nice run and I would be grateful to see my 91st birthday.
And when he died, I felt a melancholy over the fact that he was done. The hyphen was filled in — his answer to the eternal question was 1920-2012.
I was also grateful that he left behind all the good stuff that we’ll always have when we need a good story or insight, and most of all I was — inspired.
It was too late for a new Ray Bradbury story, but it wasn’t too late for me to try to be a writer when I grew up.
Two days later, and the day after I found out Ray had passed, I launched a blog called “ImagRev: The Imaginary Revolution,” and for the next five months I wrote fragments of what would be the only novel I have completed in the last (mumble, mumble) years. I wrote as entries from the memoirs of Raymond Douglas Kaliber, who led the nonviolent establishment of a government-less society on Sirius IV, one of the settings of my earlier novel The Imaginary Bomb. There were 89 entries, and I didn’t write it linearly, so when I assembled the book into a novel the story was in a different order. I left the original blog in place for anyone who might want to experience the book in its original form.
It’s hard to believe Ray Bradbury has been gone for a decade. It feels like he will always be here, like his beloved Charles Dickens and his peers like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. I will always be grateful for him as a mentor and an inspiration.
And I still think the first entry is as succinct a statement about war as I’ve ever written:
I always thought war was stupid.
I mean, think about it. You and your adversary disagree about something, and the solution is to send your citizens to fight each other to the death?
You’re never going to succeed in killing each and every one of your adversary’s citizens, so even if you win, there are thousands of people who still believe in whatever it was you were trying to obliterate.
You can’t kill an idea.