Furthest Right

What Forms a Writer?

If you wonder what makes writers tick, consider this anecdote from one of the most important ones:

Bradbury often told of an encounter with a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932 as a notable influence. Wreathed in static electricity, Mr. Electrico touched the young Bradbury on the nose and said, “Live forever!” The next day, Bradbury returned to the carnival to ask Mr. Electrico’s advice on a magic trick. After Mr. Electrico introduced him to the other performers in the carnival, he told Bradbury that he was a reincarnation of his best friend who died in World War I. Bradbury later wrote, “a few days later I began to write, full-time. I have written every single day of my life since that day.”

Bradbury, along with Heinlein and Lewis, was a constant companion in early life reading for me. He was not a science fiction writer but more a storyteller with insight into how technology offered us potential and what that challenge then revealed about what we kept within.

For example, most would pay to Fahrenheit 451 as his most important work, and perhaps it is, but his most perceptive for my money is The Martian Chronicles, a story about how no matter where humans go we will face the same problems and the same false solutions.

In it, Bradbury conjures up Martians who offer a different view of the world: part transcendent religion, part simply thinking out of time, with a little bit of mysticism tied into science. Perhaps this came to him from his early days of wondering about the war dead and what it all meant.

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