Guy Montag is Lost

We lost the last of the giants yesterday.

I grew up on a steady diet of the four pillars of Science Fiction: Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, and Ray Bradbury. I would usually include Frank Herbert in that list, and Kurt Vonnegut around the edges of social commentator and fabulist, but Heinlein, Asimov, Clark, and Bradbury were unquestionably greats, were giants who shaped the worlds of the future as they wrote them. Between them they wrote more than 700 books (impressive, even considering 500 of the books were Asimov alone) and countless short stories, movie scripts, novellas, plays, and television and radio shows.

But Bradbury, who died at 91 years old yesterday, was a little different. Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark were known as the “Big Three;” Bradbury was there, was part of speculative Sci-Fi every micron of the way, but he wrote closer to the Earth than the others tended to. Even one of his most well known books, The Martian Chronicles, was still within our solar system – and the stories were uniquely human stories. His Fahrenheit 451 – required reading in many schools – is not only set on our world, but increasingly describes our world. The technology of media and the decline of print publishing today holds frightening echoes of Bradbury’s dystopia.

He wrote poetry as well. As a poet and Sci-Fi buff, I was excited to find a copy of an anthology of his poems. Yes, some were about sci-fi. Some were about flowers, and children. Most of them were proof that he was a better storyteller than poet. But still, he was one of the last of the Renaissance men – creating with words in every venue in which words can carry weight.

He will be missed by many. And if you’ve never read Fahrenheit 451, go get a copy. You’ll be glad you did.

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