In June of this year, we lost Ray Bradbury. One of the giants of science fiction, he has left an indelible mark on the genre. Farenheit 451 is one of my longtime favourite books but I have Ray Bradbury to thank for what I believe was my first ever introduction to science fiction. I have vague memories of a short film – I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 – and it scared me and frightened me, and made me think. It was about kids, like me, but they lived on Venus, a planet with unending rain. It wasn’t until years later that I learned it came from Bradbury’s 1954 short story called, “All Summer in a Day.” (You can look up the details of the story, or even watch it on YouTube). It was about a rare celestial event involving Venus and the Sun. It almost seems poetic that Bradbury himself died during an even rarer celestial event, the transit of Venus across the Sun.
On June 6, 2012, in an official public statement, President Obama said:
“For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
This morning at 1:32am (EST) the NASA rover Curiosity touched down on Mars. It is the first astrobiology mission since the 1970s’ Viking probes. Science fiction inspires. And it doesn’t just inspire writers, it inspires scientists, and engineers. It moves us closer to the Infinite, and it challenges us to imagine and to take action. The video below is from Mars rover driver Ashley Stroupe who is also one of JPL’s folks working on Curiosity, and I’m sure not the only Bradbury fan in California’s JPL early this morning
Below – In Memoriam: Ray Bradbury (reposted from JPL news)