Ray Bradbury passed away on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Many people, myself included, came to SF/F fandom because of Mr. Bradbury’s writing. In fact I remember very well the very first Bradbury story I ever read. “The Veldt” appeared in a collection of SF/F/Horror short stories that my Dad gave me when he was done with it. I was about seven. The collection included H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall” (later a novel with Robert Silverberg), and “The Veldt,” which originally appeared in The Illustrated Man.
I don’t know what sort of sicko gives a seven year old “The Veldt” without even thinking about it, especially a seven year old as prone to nightmares, night terrors and fits of wild imagination as I was. But he did. My father actually had a tendency to do shit like this, to the point that my mother started making him get up with the shrieking terrified child regardless of whether or not he had to work the next day. My mom got a little annoyed at his absent-minded “stress tests” on my imaginative powers.
Anyway, “The Veldt” scared me badly enough, that as a teenager already madly in love with horror movies like “Carrie” and “The Howling,” I steadfastedly refused to watch “Something Wicked This Way Comes”
when it played on the Disney Channel at Halloween. In fact, I still haven’t seen the movie, in spite of owning a copy on DVD. I just haven’t been able to work up the nerve.
Now, in fifth grade I got an anthology for “young adults” called Monster Madness that featured “The Homecoming,” by Ray Bradbury, as well as works by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Manly Wade Wellman (two of my other favorite authors of all time). “The Homecoming” remains my favorite Bradbury story, and probably always will. I’ve read many more of his books since then, including Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine. Whenever anyone mentions Bradbury, these are the two stories that spring readily to mind. “The Veldt” still gives me the willies when I read it now, and I still love “The Homecoming.”
Mr. Bradbury was, by all accounts, an exceptional human being, who encouraged new authors, and appreciated his fanbase. Rest in Peace, Sir, you’ve earned it.
“Stay drunk on writing so reality doesn’t destroy you.” -Ray Bradbury
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