When I first read “A Sound of Thunder” in eighth grade, I think my brain underwent a permanent change. I was intrigued by the time travel, excited by the dinosaur hunt, and amazed by the twist ending. Since then I’ve enjoyed many of Bradbury’s other short stories and his novels, and I keep Zen and the Art of Writing handy for inspiration.
Some of the most important things I’ve learned from Ray Bradbury:
Endings. Bradbuy knows how to make an ending “click” into place, even an ending you weren’t expecting. Sometimes it’s a mindbender, but sometimes it’s an emotional zing you didn’t see coming. I love the way “The Million-Year Picnic,” about a family accepting their new home on Mars, left me forlorn and hopeful at the same time.
Passion. The story of Bradbury typing away as fast as he can on the first draft of Fahrenheit 451 while feeding nickels into a rented typewriter always makes me feel a bit inadequate. Here’s a man who loves the writing process, who thrives on telling a story, who spews poetic descriptions. The Bittering Family’s transformation into Martians in “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” is both beautiful and haunting, and makes this my favorite short story.
Psychology. While I love a good “hard” science fiction novel, I enjoy writing more about the human element of this genre. Bradbury often delves into the psychological impact of technology–the difficulty of adjusting to life on another planet, the horror of science gone wrong, the thrill of youth relived.
How do you feel about Bradbury’s stories? Who inspires you?
Parker Peevyhouse loves her copy of A Medicine for Melancholy