The news came silently across my computer screen. No fanfare, no loud noises, wailing or gnashing of teeth.
But to me, it was like the sound of thunder. Author Ray Bradbury dies.
He was 91 years old. Or young, if you take into consideration both his continued activities in life into his nineties and the child-like enthusiasm he always held for life itself. It was a long, rich and rewarding life he led. He did what he loved and was loved for what he did.
Although all this is true, I nonetheless felt the pangs of sadness, regret and loss.
It was Ray who led me to where I am in life. At least the writing part. Most other parts of my life are in total disarray. But I am doing what I love, and have been doing it for 35 years. AND . . . it was Ray who started me on this magnificent journey. Thirty nine years ago, I read "A SOund of Thunder," a short story in Ray's R is for Rocket collection of short stories. We had to read it in 6th grade English class. MOst everyone else groaned, as they always do about having to read something. But for me it was some great revelation. For me it led to reading everything else in the book. And to reading everything else I could have that he ever wrote.
And from there I moved onto Clarke and Asimov and Rsnick and Harrison and Tolkein. From there I read Patterson and Fleming and King and Bach and Cornwell and so many others. I would return to "A Sound of Thunder" from time to time.
And eventually, it would lead me to write my first short story (which has never seen the light of publication), "The Proper Care and Feeding of an Electric Guitar". From that humble beginning, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Many years of which were simply for me and my enjoyment. Of course, I envisioned myself an author, read by millions. Like Ray Bradbury.
Over the years, working in the industry and going to conventions, I crossed paths with many authors I admired and many I had never heard of. I listened to authors read their works, like Anne McCaffrey in San Diego in 1979. I met and conversed with Dr. Asimov. Laughed at the humor of Alexis Gilliland's cartoons. Briefly met powerhouse authors such as Esther Friesner, Ben Bova, Greg Bear and discussed industry politics with Margaret Wander Bonanno and Ann Crispin. Debated egos with Lawrence Watt-Evans. And enjoyed watching the talents of Christine Golden grow.
One regret I had was being to gun-shy to actually meet Ray Bradbury. I wish I had had the courage to at least say 'thank you' for all he had done for me without ever even knowing me.
And now, in a silent crash of thunderous sadness, I can only thank him posthumously.
I will be sad for the time being. But, eventually, I will slide joyously into memories of all he inspired in my writing life. Ray is, no doubt, wandering down the street in a white suit, watching young boys peer through fences as space men head out to the stars and dreaming of days when they too can travel beyond their boyhood days. And I know he is smiling.
Instead of my usual close, I will simply wish you all a wonderful day. Spend it dreaming of better days and doing what you love. Ray would have appreciated that kind of tribute.
Have a wonderful day. Read a book today. maybe R is for Rocket or S is for Space or Dandelion Wine.