When news spread of Ray Bradbury’s passing yesterday, a few authors posted articles I wanted to pass along to the fans that would miss him. Neil Gaiman copied to his online journal an introduction to Bradbury’s THE MACHINERIES OF JOY. He also wrote an article about Bradbury as his friend for the Guardian. David Brin wrote an article about Bradbury’s optimism on Salon. Finally, the New Yorker unlocked Bradbury’s two articles so non-subscribers could access them.
Bradbury will be missed. It’s important for his fans to come together and share their memories of him and his legacy so that he will not be forgotten. I hope you enjoy these articles. Now go out, read some Bradbury this weekend, and maybe drink some dandelion wine while you’re at it.
UPDATE Here’s an article from Wired that includes comments from Ursula K. LeGuin, Joe Hill, Robin Hobb, Elizabeth Bear, R.A. Salvatore, Lev Grossman, and more.
Yesterday I came across a great article by Elizabeth Bear on Clarkesworld Magazine, “Another Word: Dear Speculative Fiction, I’m Glad We Had this Talk.” In it, she talks about how as a young reader, sci-fi and fantasy were fun, whereas today, they are filled with cynicism and dystopias. Bear clarifies that she is not asking sci-fi and fantasy to be dumbed down, but instead to take itself less seriously and crack a joke every now and then, even while still taking on deep thoughts.
Coincidentally, io9.com posted an interview with David Brin in which he repeatedly mentions the potential for optimism in science fiction–that the future doesn’t need to be dark and desolate, because smart and creative people can create wonderful solutions to the world’s problems.
I think these sorts of arguments should be made, and I would love to see writers take up the cause. Just as you have “Oscar movie” season in the winter and “popcorn movie” season in the summer, I see no reason why fantasy and sci-fi can’t be both dark and light, serious and funny. I mean, there’s no reason why there can’t be sci-fi and fantasy beach reads, right? I think there is an audience that will support both strains.
But as I talked about earlier, my suspicion is that people are choosing less optimistic reads because they feel less optimistic about society and the short-term future. Which is ironic, because Brin is right–it will take optimism and creativity to get us out of our funk. So let’s see some more ray guns and sword and sorcery (thanks, Saladin Ahmed for writing THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON. Go read it, everyone). But until then, I’ll be reading Terry Pratchett.