The American science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91. He wrote more than 50 books, the most celebrated and widely read of which is Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953 and adapted for the cinema by Francois Truffaut in 1966. Kingsley Amis called the novel “the most skillfully drawn of all science fiction’s conformist hells”.
In an interview with the Paris Review, Bradbury called science fiction the “art of the possible”:
Science fiction is the fiction of ideas. Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves. Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.
Of Fahrenheit 451, he said:
You’re dealing with book burning, a very serious subject. You’ve got to be careful you don’t start lecturing people. So you put your story a few years into the future and you invent a fireman who has been burning books instead of putting out fires—which is a grand idea in itself—and you start him on the adventure of discovering that maybe books shouldn’t be burned. He reads his first book. He falls in love. And then you send him out into the world to change his life. It’s a great suspense story, and locked into it is this great truth you want to tell, without pontificating.
On his Twitter feed, Bradbury’s grandson Danny Karapetian wrote: “The world has lost one of the best writers it’s ever known, and one of the dearest men to my heart. RIP Ray Bradbury (Ol’ Gramps).”