Photo by Alan Light
Ray Bradbury in 1975
Ray Bradbury passed away last night at the age of 91. It is hoped that in his final moments, the author of some of the finest short stories in American literature thought back on his many years and decided that he'd had enough fun for two lifetimes.
Bradbury wrote novels, screenplays, episodic television, magazine articles, short stories and novellas
, and in his finest moments he expressed an enthusiasm for what can only be termed "the wonder of it all." Life in Bradbury's worlds is precious, intelligence is valued and the hero's greatest asset is an imagination.
You're free to argue in which story Bradbury reached his apogee, but all answers except "The Toynbee Convector" are incorrect.
In this 1984 short story, a man named Craig Bennett Stiles tells the world he's created a time machine and has gone into the future. According to Stiles the future is cleaner, safer, happier and full of technological marvels -- and he has video to prove it.
Of course, Stiles is lying. He imagined a better world, faked his evidence and then told a convincing story -- and everything he augured comes to pass. What we needed, according to Stiles, was a little inspiration and the confidence to believe we could build a better future.
So yeah, that's the most Ray Bradbury story ever conceived, written and lived by Ray Bradbury. In 100 years when Craig Bennett Stiles/Ray Bradbury appears in a corruscating burst in the sky and the waiting crowd releases its breath in a mighty cheer for the man who imagined the future he wanted, I hope to see you all there.
Now go outside. Ride the swings. Read a book on a hillside. Look up at the sky and wonder at it all.