Ray Bradbury was a friend to The Planetary Society. He often dreamt of the future and travel between planets, most especially Mars. He set up a gift to be presented to the composer of a piece of classical music that celebrates the landing of the first humans on Mars.
His stories were cautionary, warning us of the dangers of a government unchecked. He reminded us all of the importance of the written word: the power of prose and poetry. For me, Fahrenheit 451 was about the freedom of speech and the trouble a society can get into with a paranoid leadership and complacent citizenry. Along that line, The Martian Chronicles were, for me, about the dangers of taking things for granted, of not being vigilant, and of not participating in your community.
I met Mr. Bradbury when I attended his play Greentown. It was a striking work about life, death, and our place in the universe — and Mr. Bradbury was seeing it produced for the first time. He was delighted; we all were. He could tell a story and leave you questioning so much, so many of your own decisions in life. That’s not just a gift or talent; it shows the deep thought and work he put in to make his stories not just good, but great. And so, Ray’s stories have stood the test of time.
Thank you, Ray; you changed the world. At the Planetary Society we will do our best to see to it that your dreams and hopes of exploring the distant regions of the Solar System, Mars especially, are kept alive.