Three years ago this month, the world lost arguably the greatest genre writer of our time. The prolific (and prolifically feisty) Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5th, 2012, leaving a profound literary chasm in his wake. After all, we’re not likely to discover another author as versatile and insightful as the scribe who penned such perennial favorites as Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Martian Chronicles.
More than any other author, Ray Bradbury inspired me to become a writer. Part of me wished he could live forever—he wished for that too—but alas, such hopes were not to be. Still, for Bradbury fans, there’s solace to be found in the landscape of the country the author imagined and reimagined in his stories. And while America is not quite as exotic as, say, Mars, these four locations will keep you entertained while you save up for that ticket to space.
Ray Bradbury was born in the quintessential American town of Waukegan. Many of his stories, including Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes, are set in his hometown’s fictional stand-in, Green Town. And though he moved to the West Coast in the 1950s, the people of Waukegan do their best to remember their native son. From an annual storytelling festival in Bradbury’s favorite month October to occasional walking tours and a park named in his honor, you can certainly savor the nostalgic home Bradbury left behind.
Spaceship Earth (Epcot Center) in Orlando, Florida
Bradbury in mouse ears? Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Back in the 1970s, the Walt Disney Company enlisted Ray Bradbury’s help in designing a new Epcot Center exhibit. Spaceship Earth remains a centerpiece of the park to this day, though Bradbury’s original storyline has been tweaked over the years. For an author who loathed consumerism and the homogenization of America, he was certainly able to add his inimitable touches and make somewhere as ubiquitous as Disneyworld into a one-of-a-kind experience for generations of families.
NASA Visitor Centers
So you can’t take daytrips to Mars quite yet. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t able to enjoy the allure of space. From California to New York, NASA has over a dozen visitor centers you can check out. And while the public might not have access to all the inner laboratories and jet propulsion engines, there’s still plenty to remind you why, over a career that spanned more than half a century, Ray Bradbury’s love affair with space never waned.
While Bradbury was known for crafting stories that spotlighted small-town American magic, it’s rather ironic he wrote most of his best work from his family’s long-time home in Los Angeles. Sadly, that house was demolished last year, amid great fan uproar, but a visit to Los Angeles should still make it on a must-see list for fans. Be sure to visit Westwood Memorial Park, and see Bradbury’s final resting place. His epitaph? “Author of Fahrenheit 451.” Oh, but Mr. Bradbury—you were that and so much more.