Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ray Bradbury at 86

Today is Ray Bradbury's 86th birthday. He says he is going to live forever, so he is now one year closer to achieving that aim!

Bradbury has, on many occasions, written of time machines. Some of these are more or less literal transports, such as the device that takes Eckels and Travis back to the Jurassic for a touch of dino hunting. Others are more metaphorical. In "The Toynbee Convector" (1984), a man in an ice-cream white suit claims to have travelled to a glorious future world, and by so preaching of it causes such a world to come into existence. This man sounds very much like Ray Bradbury.

In the much earlier Dandelion Wine (1957), Douglas Spaulding and his friends sit and listen in awe of Colonel Freeleigh, an old man whose reminiscences are so vivid that they feel transported back to the American Civil War. The old man is a time machine.

In this recent interview, Bradbury is conscious that, at eighty-six, he is now such a time machine. It is remarkable to think, as you read Dandelion Wine, that the book's author (thirty-seven years old at the time it was published) is able to project himself into the characters of young Doug and old Freeleigh, is capable of simultaneously being the child and the time machine.

Birthday greetings for Ray are being gathered on his official message board. Brian Sibley offers a birthday tribute to Ray on his ex libris blog.

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