A true national treasure lost

Commentary by CJ Click
Times-News correspondent

   Author Ray Bradbury’s recent death motivated me to revisit some of Bradbury’s works and reflect on how he changed the world. Lauded as one of the best authors of the 20th century, Bradbury is one, if not the best, science fiction writers of all time.
   Bradbury always said that he knew from a young age he was “going into one of the arts,” as he put it. He loved Edgar Rice Burroughs’s book, “The Warlord of Mars,” so much that he wrote his own sequel to it when he was only 12 years old.
   He has written 27 novels and more than 600 short stories in his career, an astonishing accomplishment by an astonishing man. His first novel, however, was a collection of short stories about the human colonization of Mars, “The Martian Chronicles.”
   Even with all his many works, Bradbury was not limited to publishing books. He wrote several screenplays for “The Twilight Zone” as well as the screenplay for John Huston’s now classic film adaptation of “Moby Dick.”
   Of Bradbury’s many works, his dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451” is perhaps the most well-known. The book, which explores a society in which books are prohibited, has an alarming feel to it in the light of the growing threats of censorship.
   One of the most powerful lines I have ever read was from Bradbury. In the Coda of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury states: “There is more than one way to burn a book.” He was releasing his anger from editors stripping stories so much that it takes away from the intent of the author. “Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like — in the finale — Edgar Guest.”
   Not only do we have the same threat today, but we have the increasingly growing threat of censorship. That statement frightens me. Especially coming from a man who predicted the ATM and televised car chases in his writing.
   America lost a true national treasure on June 5, 2012, with the passing of Ray Bradbury. Bradbury not only changed the face of science fiction, but recreated literature as a whole. He didn’t leave us empty handed, but with a charge. Once reflecting on his greatest influence, Jules Verne, Bradbury agreed that “the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world” and that “we can triumph by behaving morally.”
   For a man who was right about so many things, I can only trust that he was correct in that statement.

 CJ Click is a rising freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and a Teens and Twenties writer.

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