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Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2012 by James Hampton

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Like many others I read with great sadness of the passing, at age 91, of author Ray Bradbury. I never met or corresponded with Mr. Bradbury, but I feel I knew him. And I feel he knew me as well, the same way he knew every other human being who had the privilege of reading and loving his work. Because, in my opinion, Ray Bradbury's business was not really science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, nor any other genre in which he chose to write over his long career. It was the human heart, and all the things a human heart could experience during the life of its custodian: love, fear, wonder, pain, wistfulness, sorrow, joy, melancholy, and so forth. No doubt Ray conjured for us a multitude of extraordinary settings: the magically macabre carnival of Something Wicked This Way Comes was my personal favorite. But I remain convinced that Ray Bradbury's real interest was in people, no matter how alien the milieu in which they found themselves. People in all their beauty, all their madness, all their passions. Just people.

Innumerable tributes to Ray Bradbury can be found online or in print today, far more eloquent and comprehensive than anything I'm able to muster. Yet, taken together, these tributes are far greater than the sum of their parts. On websites and internet communities of all political persuasions, I am seeing comment after comment in praise of Ray Bradbury. How he touched a particular commenter's life. How deeply he will be missed. How, through his marvelous work, he will live forever, just as Mr. Electrico promised he would all those years ago. The remarks are virtually interchangeable, and in such a deeply divided time as ours I am comforted, even encouraged, by this uniformity of feeling. If so many people of so many backgrounds can be moved by the work of this one man, what else might we find to agree on?

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