Let’s wish a happy birthday to one of the great American writers. Ray Bradbury, the author of “The Martian Chronicles,” “Dandelion Wine,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “Fahrenheit 451” turned 91 on August 22nd. Although sometimes called a science fiction writer, it is probably more accurate to call him a writer of speculative fiction. Through the past and the future he explores the ideas that shape and change our lives.

Who can forget reading Fahrenheit 451?  As you see television screens getting bigger and bigger, do you think it is coming true? I have sometimes wondered, if all the books disappeared, what stories or poems could I preserve in my head for future generations. Or would it all be lost?  Ray Bradbury says it can’t happen as long as we have libraries.

Ray Bradbury grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, where the library was his second home. Of libraries he has written:

“Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

He has always been a great supporter of libraries and of the freedom to read. I heard him speak two times, once when I was in library school at UCLA, and again at a California Library Association convention in Long Beach. On this occasion he was in a wheelchair, and had to be assisted on and off stage, but his mind was still as sharp ever.

So here’s to Ray Bradbury, who said, “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

Posted by Nancy, who recently reread The Martian Chronicles.