In 1964, a 16-year-old Bruce McAllister wrote to 150 authors asking about the symbolism in their work. A number of authors wrote back, including Ray Bradbury.
It's like he's apologizing for the quality of the cover art. "Wait, wait! Please just stick around, I promise it's much better than this cover implies. In fact, I'm pretty sure whatever the hell's going on here isn't even in the book."
Ray Bradbury died this morning at the age of 91. An avid reader as a child, Bradbury fell in love with science fiction and fantasy when his aunt introduced him to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Allan Poe. After high school, he sold newspapers on a street corner at night and spent his days writing in the UCLA library. He published stories in fan magazines, then genre magazines such as Astounding Science Fiction and eventually published his first novel, The Martian Chronicles.
Ray Bradbury was the first science fiction author I got into in a big way. An older cousin I was visiting was assigned to read Fahrenheit 451 for school. I thought it sounded interesting, began to read it, and didn't put it down for the next few days. I moved on to The Martian Chronicles and from then on, I was hooked. Every trip to the library or bookstore, if a book had Bradbury's name on it, it went home with me.
Thank you for years of inspiring, entertaining, and sometimes truly terrifying reading, Mr. Bradbury. We'll all miss you.