Ray Bradbury died today; he will be missed. He was born in 1920, and lived to 2012. He wrote roughly a million short stories, an authentically classic novel in FAHRENHEIT 451, and many, many other things. He was the last of those who defined science fiction: Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Ray. His passing (and especially his passing at 91!) is the end of an era that was probably over before Heinlein died in 1988.
For me, Bradbury dying is a final nail in The Future as a proper noun; it is the final passage from a world where we imagine the future to a world where we live in the future, all the time. And that now-future that we live in changes all the time, in ways that we can’t fully grasp. When I was fifteen and devouring the science fiction canon, I was certain that I would live to see humans on Mars. Now, I am no longer sure if humans will make it back to the moon ever, much less within my life time. This has been coming for a long time, to be sure. Bradbury’s death makes it final.
So, the Future is over. Our dreams are smaller, less full, more adult. We’ve lost Ray Bradbury, and things will never be the same.