Missing Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)
Ray Bradbury, the master storyteller and legend of American literature, has died at the age of 91. The LA Times carries an interesting obituary. I adore Fahrenheit 451 (even the graphic novel version), and recently read and loved The Martian Chronicles for the first time. I was struck by the detailed thought Bradbury had obviously put into the idea of the merging of Earthlings and Martians – resentment, fear, love, camaraderie – and the meticulous descriptions of Mars and its inhabitants. What an imagination on him.
Bradbury touched a lot of people, not just with his writing but also his generosity. Within the rare bookselling community, he was known as a generous signer and probably signed thousands and thousands of books over the decades. It’s easy to find affordable signed copies of his work. The influence and cultural impact of Fahrenheit 451 will linger for further generations. Think of that novel every time you hear of a book being censored in a school or from a library.
Interestingly, there are four first editions of Fahrenheit 451. First is the soft cover edition released about six weeks before the hardcover version, which, despite being second in the timeline, is usually preferred by collectors. The hardcover commands four figures for a decent copy and more when signed. The special fire-proof Asbestos cover edition that was limited to 200 copies is rarely seen priced at less than $10,000. The granddaddy of them all is the special cloth and gilt presentation copy which Bradbury had specially bound and limited to 50 copies. These extremely scarce editions may actually sell for more than the Asbestos edition depending on who the book was inscribed to.
Just last week, Bradbury had an essay published in the New Yorker magazine:
When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents’ boarding house, in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing Amazing Stories,with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination. Soon after, the creative beast in me grew when Buck Rogers appeared, in 1928, and I think I went a trifle mad that autumn. It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories. You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.