Mike Fleming

Author Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91, his daughter has confirmed to the Associated Press. Bradbury was a visionary author whose classic books included The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote more than 600 short stories. He did not consider himself a science fiction author, more a purveyor of futuristic fiction. Many of his works were turned into films, or were on the way toward making that leap and Bradbury kept a hand in those projects. Just last month, MGM acquired the screen rights to From The Dust Returned, a collection of short stories that focuses on a mortal boy named Timothy who is adopted into a family of benevolent ghouls. Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan are producing that project, as they are The Illustrated Man at Warner Bros. That project once had Zack Snyder poised to direct a script by Alex Tse, until Snyder got busy with Man of Steel and had to drop out. That film had been set at Warner Bros, which for years had tried to remake Fahrenheit 451, the seminal novel about a “fireman” whose job it was to burn books in a repressive futuristic society. The book was originally turned into a 1966 film by Francois Truffaut. Mel Gibson once got close to playing the lead character, and filmmakers like him and Frank Darabont had long flirtations with the subject matter. Dandelion Wine had also recently been optioned.

I recall Bradbury as a feisty author who stood up for the integrity of his work. I recall him telling me how incensed he was when Michael Moore appropriated one of his most famous books for the title of Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Bradbury didn’t want his work associated with a political agenda and was annoyed that Moore hadn’t consulted him before taking the title that referred to the temperature at which paper burns. Bradbury once sued CBS in the 1950s when he turned down a request to make Fahrenheit 451 and the network produced a close cousin for Playhouse Theater. Bradbury said it took him three years but he prevailed in court.