He has a great quote that fits really well with 451: "I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it."
I wish there were more science fiction authors writing today that were still trying to prevent the future.
You know, I went to see him speak once. Okay, you didn't know that, but I'm telling you now. It was something like 20 years ago at this point. Well, almost. It was at Centenary College in Louisiana in the gym. Packed. He just sat out in the middle of the gym with a mic and talked for a couple of hours. Even though I don't really remember what all he talked about, he was fascinating, and I remember being pretty enthralled by it all. There was one thing, though; he talked about the story "Besides a Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up?" which is one of my absolute favorite stories by him, because I was that boy. I wanted to be a dinosaur when I grew up, and, failing that, I wanted to be a paleontologist, which I also failed at, because I found out you had to learn about rocks, and I hate rocks. I did, however, fail to get anything signed by him, because I didn't know they were going to allow signing after he spoke (especially considering the whole thing was in the evening to begin with, and it was, like, 9:30 by the time he finished), so I didn't take anything with me. I didn't have any editions of his books that I would have considered worthy of a signature anyway.
My favorite of his is The Martian Chronicles. And, now, I want to go read it again. And Farenheit, which my younger son just started reading a few days ago, actually. I figured I'd introduce it to him around the same age I was. I tried with my older son, but he felt it was too weird for him or something back when he was 12ish and wouldn't read it.
There have been a lot of stories I've loved over the years. A lot. But, even if I love them, most of them don't impact me at all. Don't change me. Bradbury was not one of those writers. He wrote stories that have hung around in my mind for three decades. The image of the boy and his sharp teeth and the dog being scared of him will always be in my mind. The weird reproduction of the House of Usher in Martian Chronicles has never faded. And, most of all, my belief that censorship (a fireless form of book burning) is wrong has never been brighter, but Bradbury struck the match that started that flame.
He may be gone, now, but, at least, the things that he wrote will continue on, and he can continue to light those fires in new, young minds. In my own writing career, I think, that's the very most that I hope for, that something I write will be worth going on after I'm gone. Not a Bradbury, but, maybe, just a shadow of him.
In case you don't know, he had a lot to say about being a writer. One of those things was that you jump off the cliff and figure out how to fly on your way down. It makes me wonder if that's where Douglas Adams got that idea, but that bit about flying in Hitchhiker's has always been my favorite part.
And here are a few more quotes to leave you with:
"I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."