NEW YORK – Ray Bradbury, a giant of American literature who helped popularize science fiction with works such as The Martian Chronicles , died on Tuesday at age 91, his publisher said on Wednesday.
Bradbury published more than 500 works including Fahrenheit 451 , a classic novel about book censorship in a future society, and other favourites such as The Illustrated Man and Something Wicked This Way Comes .
“Mr. Bradbury died peacefully, last night, in Los Angeles, after a long illness,” said a spokesman for his publisher, HarperCollins.
As a science fiction writer, Bradbury said he did not want to predict the future – but sometimes wanted to prevent it. Such was the case with Fahrenheit 451 , a book published in 1953 about a totalitarian, anti-intellectual society where banned books are burned by “firemen.” The title refers to the temperature at which paper ignites.
The novel, which Bradbury wrote on a rented typewriter at the UCLA library, featured a world that might sound familiar to 21st-century readers – wall-sized interactive televisions, earpiece communication systems, omnipresent advertising and political correctness.
“In science fiction, we dream,” he told The New York Times. “In order to colonize in space, to rebuild our cities … to tackle any number of problems, we must imagine the future, including the new technologies that are required …
“Science fiction is also a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when in reality you are attacking the recent past and the present.” But for a futurist, Bradbury did not always embrace technology. He called the Internet a scam perpetrated by computer companies, was disdainful of automatic teller machines and denounced video games as “a waste of time for men with nothing else to do.” He said he never learned to drive a car after witnessing an accident that killed several people and did not travel by airplane until much later in life.
Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Ill., and moved to Los Angeles as a teenager as his father sought work. He roller-skated around Hollywood, chasing celebrities for autographs, and was strongly influenced by the science fiction works of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.