We’d like to celebrate Ray Bradbury’s legacy with the story “Last Night of the World” on Esquire, originally published in February 1951.
In 1932, the words of a carnival magician inspired a 12-year-old Bradbury to write. The magician Mr. Electrico tapped Bradbury with his sword at the end of the performance and said, “Live forever!” Of the light-bulb moment, Bradbury said, “I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped.”
Bradbury’s recollection of his childhood inspirations:
“When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents’ boarding house, in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing Amazing Stories,with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination. Soon after, the creative beast in me grew when Buck Rogers appeared, in 1928, and I think I went a trifle mad that autumn. It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories. You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.”
On being a happy person he wrote:
“In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”