Ray Bradbury Punched Me In The Gut: Why I’m A Second-Generation Science Fiction Fan

Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again.
— Ray Bradbury

My father is a science-fiction fan. In grade school he handed me Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, a book of 18 sci-fi short stories, one of which was “The Rocket Man.” Like the astronaut father in the story, I was transported to another world while reading it. I fell in. The Rocket Man was my world in full technicolor.

And then the ending came. It hit grade-school me in the gut. I wept. And not out of sadness, but from a place that had never been touched before, a spot as yet never so deeply stirred. Nothing was ever the same again. I had always been a reader, but that was the moment I fell in love with it, was bewitched by words and the way sci fi writers like Bradbury and Isaac Asimov used them.

I remember after first getting a DSLR, I threw it over my back and biked, before dawn, to the south side on the lake front trail to see the sunrise, the first time as a “photographer” capturing the moment. Hit in the gut. Wept again. That became the moment of a new type of enchantment—a visual one, without words, but just as rich with narrative.

During that first sunrise, capturing Chicago’s beauty was an idea in my head that hadn’t occurred yet. But grade-school me, grooved by Ray Bradbury and his Rocket Man, trusted it could be. And nothing would ever be the same again, the way I saw this city forever transformed.

And that is why I love science fiction, and Ray Bradbury, reading, and most of all my father, who was deeply moved by sci fi and had the idea to pass it along.

Ideas are the most important thing in the Universe. They are the Universe.

See, snap and share, my friends—as if the world depended on it. I think it does.

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