Science fiction author Ray Bradbury dead at 91

Wed Jun 6, 2012 5:22pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ray Bradbury, a giant of American literature who helped popularize science fiction with poetic, cerebral works such as "The Martian Chronicles," died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 91.

Bradbury brought not only futuristic vision but literary sensibilities to his more than 500 works published including "Fahrenheit 451," a classic dystopian novel about book censorship in a future society, and other favorites such as "The Illustrated Man" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes."

"Mr. Bradbury died peacefully, last night, in Los Angeles, after a long illness," said a spokesman for his publisher, HarperCollins, on Wednesday.

As a science fiction writer, Bradbury said he did not want to predict the future -- but sometimes wanted to prevent it. Such was the case with "Fahrenheit 451," a book published in 1953 about a totalitarian, anti-intellectual society where banned books are burned by "firemen." The title refers to the temperature at which paper ignites.

The novel, which Bradbury wrote on a rented typewriter at the UCLA library, featured a world that might sound familiar to 21st century readers -- wall-sized interactive televisions, earpiece communication systems, omnipresent advertising and political correctness.

"In science fiction, we dream," he told The New York Times. "In order to colonize in space, to rebuild our cities ... to tackle any number of problems, we must imagine the future, including the new technologies that are required ...

"Science fiction is also a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when in reality you are attacking the recent past and the present."

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Author Ray Bradbury poses on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during ceremonies in Hollywood, California in this file photo taken April 10, 1997. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files