US author Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91, after a career of writing everything from science fiction and mystery to humour.
Although slowed in recent years by a stroke that meant he had to use a wheelchair, Bradbury remained active, turning out new novels, plays, screenplays and a volume of poetry.
He wrote every day and appeared from time to time at book shops, public library fundraisers and other literary events around Los Angeles.
His writings ranged from horror and mystery to humour and sympathetic stories about the Irish, blacks and Mexican-Americans.
“What I have always been is a hybrid author,” Bradbury said in 2009. “I am completely in love with movies, and I am completely in love with theatre, and I am completely in love with libraries.”
Bradbury broke through in 1950 with The Martian Chronicles, a series of intertwined stories that satirised capitalism, racism and superpower tensions as it portrayed Earth colonisers destroying an idyllic Martian civilisation.
Like Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End and the Robert Wise film The Day The Earth Stood Still, Bradbury’s book was a Cold War morality tale in which imagined lives on other planets serve as commentary on human behaviour on Earth.
The Martian Chronicles has been published in more than 30 languages, was made into a TV mini-series and inspired a computer game.
It prophesied the banning of books, especially works of fantasy, a theme Bradbury would take on fully in the 1953 release Fahrenheit 451.
Inspired by the Cold War, the rise of television and the author’s passion for libraries, it was an apocalyptic narrative of nuclear war abroad and empty pleasure at home, with firefighters assigned to burn books instead of putting blazes out – 451 degrees Fahrenheit, Bradbury had been told, was the temperature at which books went up in flames.