As one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century, Ray Bradbury is often seen as the individual responsible for bring science fiction into mainstream American society and culture. As a child, Bradbury read nearly any book he could get his hands on, but was particularly fond of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Allan Poe; Bradbury would later take the fantastical nature of these various authors' works and use them as guiding principles when writing within the relatively young genre of science fiction. As a young man, he had an intense admiration of author Robert Heinlein; because he wrote about the human side of science fiction, Bradbury found himself crafting his own stories using that lens.
In 1938, Bradbury had his first short story published; the following year, he received his first paycheck as a co-author of a story published in a different magazine. Three years later, he had his first paying solo piece published, and two years later was a full-time author. In 1947, Bradbury appeared on the radar of Truman Capote, then an editorial assistant. He played an instrumental role in a short story being published in Mademoiselle. By far Bradbury's most famous book, Fahrenheit 451 was written in the library at the University of California - Los Angeles, using rented typewriters. Originally entitled The Fireman, the novel tells of a dystopian future where the media serves to distance people from one another and from their culture by putting less emphasis on literature and the written word. The story is one of great humanitarian crisis - that of distancing people from the very concept of knowledge - and one that Bradbury hoped would come to pass in 50 or more years, if ever.
Bradbury suffered a stroke in 1999, but continued to write nevertheless. After a lengthy illness, he passed away on June 5, 2012. His literary legacy cannot be denied; his cultural legacy can be seen everywhere. Devices ranging from earbuds to ATMs can be traced back to his works, and the very concept of artificial intelligence in modern society incorporates many elements of the science fiction presented in his writing entitled I Sing the Body Electric.