His grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared these words with io9 about his grandfather's passing: "If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone's memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it's always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know."
"Everything I've done is a surprise, a wonderful surprise," Bradbury said during his acceptance speech in 2000. "I sometimes get up at night when I can't sleep and walk down into my library and open one of my books and read a paragraph and say, 'My God, did I write that? Did I write that?', because it's still a surprise."
I feel like his writing wouldn't be so vivid and lyrical if there were not such a wellspring of old-fashioned hope at the center, so much he found worthy of protection. True-hearted rebellion that's more than just anarchy, after all, requires a world worth saving; a story like "The Toynbee Convector" posits not just that one man could change the entire course of civilization with nothing but a message of hope, but that humanity itself is capable of acting on it.
His first big success came in 1947 with the short story “Homecoming,” narrated by a boy who feels like an outsider at a family reunion of witches, vampires and werewolves because he lacks supernatural powers. The story, plucked from the pile of unsolicited manuscripts at Mademoiselle by a young editor named Truman Capote, earned the 27-year-old Mr. Bradbury an O. Henry Award in 1947 as one of the best American short stories of the year.
If anything, Bradbury was suspicious of the future, and sentimental about the past. In Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and several short stories he predicted radio telephone “ear thimbles” (anticipating Bluetooth headsets), which were cacophonous, isolating, and socially disastrous. The arrival of technologies he had foreseen did nothing to change such views: in 2009 he described the internet as largely “a waste of time”. He continued to use a typewriter rather than a computer. Most remarkably, he managed to live almost all his life in Los Angeles without learning to drive.
I want to be clear on this. I wouldn’t be reading today if I hadn’t found Ray Bradbury as a small boy in a library. And I know that I’m not alone. Ray Bradbury gave us the okay to believe in stories and the hunger to find more of them.
Bradbury's poetically drawn and atmospheric fictions—horror, fantasy, shadowy American gothics—explored life's secret corners: what was hidden in the margins of the official family narrative, or the white noise whirring uncomfortably just below the placid surface. He offered a set of metaphors and life puzzles to ponder for the rocket age and beyond, and has influenced a wide swath of popular culture--from children's writer R.L. Stine and singer Elton John (who penned his hit "Rocket Man" as an homage), to architect Jon Jerde who enlisted Bradbury to consider and offer suggestions about reimagining public spaces.
“Bradbury took the conventions of the science fiction genre — time travel, robots, space exploration — and made them signify beyond themselves, giving them a broader and more nuanced emotional appeal to general readers,” said William F. Touponce, a founder and former director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
He had a reputation at that time as an amusing but pushy kid, always under the feet of visiting magazine editors, always asking his seniors for tips, coaxing them into reading his manuscripts and sometimes collaborating with him. Sustaining himself as a part-time newspaper seller, he continued to write furiously (at one point, it is said, he burned more than a million words of unpublished fiction), making his first professional sales in 1941 and styling himself a full-time writer from 1943.
Bradbury told the New York Times in 2009: "Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years."
ETA: There's another roundup at Amoxcalli.
There will, of course, be many more. Feel free to leave links in the comments.