As both an avid reader and an aspiring writer I thought it appropriate to note that Ray Bradbury died last Tuesday. He was 91 years old.
The first story of his I read was probably “The Veldt” in an elementary school textbook. It's a futuristic story of two children who have a playroom with video walls that show whatever they want. They usually pick an African grassland (a "veldt") scene, a fixation that worries their parents. Eventually it's not just the visual scenery the parents notice but a hot breeze and strange smells, and eventually the lions look more and more hungrily at them when they look in on the kids. Frankly, I'm still creeped out and traumatized by that story!
The second time I remember was in high school when we read a chapter from a book and then had to write the next chapter. I didn't remember the name of the book or the author but it was about some women coming home from the movies and talking about a local murderer called "The Lonely One." They plead with their friend to stay the night with them, but she insists on going to her own house – even though she'll have to cross a ravine. In spite of her bravado, she becomes very frightened by strange sounds and just reaches her door ahead of what she thinks is the Lonely One. As she locks the door behind her, she hears someone inside her house clear his throat...
I actually got to hear Mr. Bradbury speak several years ago at the Woodland Hills Library. Braiden and his friend Nick went for extra-credit in their English class, but the overflow crowd was mostly adults. He talked about how lucky he was to have made a living and a life from writing, and shared stories of how he spent evenings at the library and how he got started and how much he loved books and reading, and it was actually really fun and interesting. I wouldn't call myself a "fan," because there have been a number of stories I really didn't like, but there were a few that amazed me and made me wish I could write like he did.