When you boil it down, we remember Ray Bradbury for one moment, and it’s not from Fahrenheit 451. In The Martian Chronicles — a collection of stories around a common theme — two travelers, a human and a Martian, meet one night on a mountain pass. As they look to the valley below, they see a vast Martian city.
Only they see it differently. The Martian sees a thriving metropolis, full of lights and noise and life. The human sees ancient ruins.
How Bradbury frames that moment may have been the first time we were touched by Art. It’s certainly the reason why, of all the paperback science-fiction we read growing up, Bradbury was the one author we considered a poet.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where Bradbury was a frequent guest, has released a tribute video from one of his visits, in 1971, on the eve of the first human craft to orbit Mars. In the video, Bradbury reads an actual poem, which is okay, we guess. Much better is his anecdote about being called out by nine-year-old boys on the shaky science of his work.
That touches us, too. If only because we were twelve at the time.
We begin, as we begin all things, with the General Lee,
midflight, never to land, like Thelma & Louise.