Cookie Warning

Warning: This blog may contain cookies. Just as cookies fresh out of the oven may burn your mouth, electronic cookies can harm your computer. Visit all kitchens and blogs (yes, including this one) with care.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Of Ayrton Senna and Ray Bradbury

In 1994, during the San Marino Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna lost his life when his Williams F1 race car swerved off at the Tamburello corner and plowed into a concrete barrier.  His close friend and fellow racer, Gerhard Berger, later complained about many of the tributes paid to Senna by people who had never met the Brazilian.  He disliked how they spoke, often with tear-streaked faces, about how much Senna had meant to them.  To Gerhard Berger, such outpourings of grief seemed inappropriate. 

At the time, I didn’t know how to react to his statement.  Although I had only started watching Formula One two years previously, Senna had become a demigod to me.  He seemed immortal and impervious to harm, a superior being capable of feats mere mortals could only dream of accomplishing.  His death left me shattered.  (Or, as the English would say, gutted).  Obviously, I never knew or even met the man.  Perhaps his death should not have affected me thus.  Yet it did.

Last week, Ray Bradbury passed away.  He was a popular and award-winning author chiefly known for his short stories, although he had written influential novels and worked with filmmakers.  While I read several of his books in my youth, I'm not sure that he was ever a primary influence in my life.  Yet for many, his work proved influential, even monumental.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the impact that Edgar Rice Burroughs, Frank Herbert, and Roger Zelazny made in my youth. (There were many, many others).  In the past decade, authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, and Terry Pratchett often entertained me and stirred my soul.  Janet Evanovich offered numerous moments of undemanding delight.  A quick glance at my reading list for the past year-and-a-half suggests that Gregory Benford, E. F. Benson, James Herriot, and Steven Brust have recently proven important.  Each, in his or her way, has contributed in a positive manner to my life.

Several years ago, after reading an interview in which Robert Silverberg asserted the eternal importance of The Martian Chronicles, I dug out my old, battered Scholastic edition and reread it.  At the fellowship following an Easter Vigil service, I fell into conversation with the associate priest.  I mentioned how something in his sermon reminded me of a story in The Martian Chronicles.  This older gentleman always struck me as someone better versed in Bible-related and spiritual works than the offerings of popular culture.  Looking back now, it seems strange to me that I can no longer remember any of the sermons he preached, and few of our conversations. Yet our talk that night, in which he shared how one of Bradbury’s stories had served as a minor metaphor for his life, still shines like a beacon in my mind. 

In 2009, my wife and I traveled to San Jose, California, to attend the World Fantasy Convention.  At an evening event, we filled our plates with goodies, and looked for a place to enjoy them.  As all the tables were full, one couple invited us to join them.  Unlike most World Fantasy attendees, he and his wife were not working- or aspiring-writers, but merely readers.  (Not that there’s anything ordinary about someone who regularly reads SF and Fantasy!)  His favorite author was Ray Bradbury.  With glowing eyes and a wide smile, he spoke of meeting the author, and how he would forever cherish the books Bradbury had signed for him. 

In the past week, I’ve read a number of glowing tributes to Ray Bradbury.  Most came from people who only met him a couple times, if at all.  Yet they speak of a man whose fiction loomed large in their lives.  Perhaps Gerhard Berger is right: perhaps it’s inappropriate to speak of what a person you’ve never really known means to you.  But as for how an author’s fiction has helped form the paradigm of your life, or how it enabled you achieve your own works of greatness, or even how it provided pleasant moments of connection between yourself and seems to me that such contributions should not only be mentioned, but shouted from the highest mountains.

Rest well, Ray Bradbury.  You shall be well-remembered.

In respectful tribute,
Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links

No comments:

Post a Comment