It’s not too often someone’s passing gets the attention of the President of the United States. But then again, it’s not every day that the world loses a legend like Ray Bradbury.
President Barack Obama shared his love of Bradbury’s “gift for storytelling,” and remembered the great despite the late author’s admonitions against the President in the past for how he handled the dismantling of NASA.
“His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world,” Obama said in a statement issued from the White House. “But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing.”
Bradbury said in 2010 that instead of announcing cutbacks to the space program, Obama instead “should be announcing that we should go back to the moon,” according to The Los Angeles Times. “We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars, and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever.”
That didn’t slow Obama, a self-proclaimed science-fiction fan, from honoring Bradbury, however.
“For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mine images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age,” Obama said in the statement.
But the President wasn’t the only one singing the praises of Bradbury, who died Tuesday at 91. Another famous author, Stephen King, had his own words to share about his colleague in writing.
“The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant’s footsteps fading away,” King said. “But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.”
“He was a muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,” said director and media mogul Steven Spielberg. “He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science-fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal.”
Spielberg has said that his 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was inspired by the 1953 “It Came From Outer Space,” that film itself adapted from a Bradbury story. The author, however, later contacted Spielberg — who was then quite early in his career — to call him a genius because of “Close Encounters.” He called it “the best film of its kind ever made,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Famed novelist Neil Gaiman said he was still shocked from Bradbury’s death, and promised to say more about it later. However, in the meantime, he encouraged anyone who wanted to know how Gaiman felt about the author to look at an essay he wrote for Bradbury’s “The Machineries of Joy.”
“If you want to quote me, you can take anything you like from this, and add that he was kind, and gentle and always filled with enthusiasm, and that the landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had him in our world.”
Some celebrities actually decided they would honor one of Bradbury’s greatest works, “Fahrenheit 451,” by doing a book burning. Documentary director Morgan Spurlock sent a note on Twitter that he was “setting fire to all the books in my office in his honor.”
Comedy talk show host Stephen Colbert paid similar sentiments on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central when he “burned” a copy of “Fahrenheit 451” in the fake fireplace on his set.
“Ray Bradbury’s work introduced us to fantastic far-off worlds and bizarre futures, but yet in his work, nothing was stranger than what he found hidden in the human mind,” Colbert said.
“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” writer and “Sliders” producer Marc Scott Zicree, who is trying to go back to the Bradbury days of 1950s science-fiction with his upcoming “Space Command” project, said he was “heartbroken” to hear about the passing of his good friend.
“He was a dear soul and a terrific writer, a huge inspiration, mentor and friend,” Zicree said. “When Abraham Lincoln died, his secretary of state said, ‘Now he belongs to the Ages.’ Now Ray belongs to the future … because the future always belonged to him.
“He was and will always be a great man, a great inspiration and a great friend. I wish you all a mentor with the heart, soul, vision and brilliance of this irreplaceable man.”