Ray Bradbury died one of those good deaths today: old (91!) and unbelievably prolific (over 400 short stories alone), and afforded the rare experience of living with a comfortable sense of his own legacy.It's actually kind of crazy that he was alive while we were, becuase his influence is inestimable. I mean that, as a writer, but also for the untold millions of geeky, geeky dorks for whom he served as a lunch table companion when nobody else availed themselves.Many of us know him from reading "Fahrenheit 451" in 7th grade English (not my favorite of his work, but I guess the one that middle school teachers can best use to inflame young breasts with outrage over censorship) but I most loved his short story collections. They concern space, murder, love, dinosaurs, evil children, sex, the end of the world and basically anything and everything worth reading about. If you haven't read them, read them, but now's an especially good time to pick him up again if you haven't since your teens. If you're new to him, I'd suggest starting out with "The Illustrated Man" or "Golden Apples of the Sun." Some of his best work is anthologized in this collection (which I keep having to buy because I keep foisting it on other people) but because they've been published so many times, there are many beautiful editions with lovely design and appealing yellowy pages and musty old book smell. Go buy them. Look!
Suitable for framing!
Or if you have a few minutes at work, go read "The Veldt" here for free, one his most famous and flawlessly creepy speculative tales. I also love "All Summer in a Day," "The Last Night of the World," "A Sound of Thunder," and about a million others. He's perfect summer reading, especially if you have a rainy day at your beach house. He's one of the main reasons I want to grow up and to be a writer, but otherwise he was a pretty OK guy.May he rest in spacey peace.