Full Name: Ray Douglas Bradbury
Born: August 22, 1920
Childhood: Waukegan, Illinois, moved to Los Angeles 1934
Nationality: United States
First Professional Sale: "Pendulum," 1941, with Henry Hasse, for Super Science Stories
Some Major Books: Dark Carnival (1947), The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit 451 (1951), The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953), The October Country (1955), Dandelion Wine (1957), A Medicine for Melancholy (1959), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), S is For Space (1966), The Halloween Tree (1972), Zen and the Art of Writing (1973), Stories of Ray Bradbury (1980), Death is a Lonely Business (1985), A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), etc., etc. [for a complete list go to Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase's Bradbury bibliography]
Some Awards: Bram Stoker Award (1989), Grand Master Nebula Award (1988), Gandalf Award (1980), World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement (1977), O'Henry Award (1947 & 1948), Aviation-Space Writers Association Award (1968), etc.
From The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (Clute & Grant): "..his imagination was also strongly shaped by his rural Midwest upbringing, nostalgic reflections of which color much of his writing....Evocative, poetic, and suffused with youthful wonder, RB's tales broke with pulp conventions....RB's depiction of fantasy as an inextricable element of daily life anticipated the contemporary Dark Fantasy movement.....General audiences recognize in Bradbury's work more than that of any other writer of fantasy and SF of the day his use of genre tropes as tools for probing the human condition." (Stefan Dziemianowicz)
From The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Nicholls & Clute): "...By 1943 Bradbury's style was beginning to jell: poetic, evocative, consciously symbolic, with strong nostalgic elements and a leaning towards the macabre....In the USA, at least, he is regarded by many critics as a major literary talent....He is, in effect, a fantasist, both whimsical and sombre, in an older, pastoral tradition. The high regard in which he is held can indeed be justified on the basis of a handful of works, with The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and many stories from the late 1940s and the 1950s among them; it is here, too, that RB's small but very influential contribution to SF is located, which had much to do with SF's ceasing to be regarded as belonging to a genre ghetto." (Peter Nicholls)
As I mentioned above, I saw Ray Bradbury for the first time at the DragonCon convention in Atlanta in July of 1998. Of all science fiction and fantasy writers, he along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke were not only my favorite writers when I was growing up, but really molded my entire outlook on the universe. Speaking very generally, from Clarke and Asimov I got my rationalist attitude and love of learning and science, while from Bradbury I absorbed some of his love of life and childlike amazement at the wonders of the world. The works of Ray and Clifford D. Simak are the major exceptions to the fact that my favorite sci-fi is based mainly on scientific ideas, but I love their stories for other reasons. I agree with the excerpt above from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction that Ray is mainly a fantasist - he has a story idea, and uses whatever devices are necessary to tell it.
When I saw Ray at in Atlanta, I was enthralled to be able to see him in person. I could sense that many other fans felt just as I did. I could see it in the excitement of their faces, in the enthusiasm with which his remarks were greeted, in the way people would flock around him wherever he went. In the dozens of conventions I have been to, I have never seen a guest treated with such love and admiration as Ray was in Atlanta. Read some of his stories if you haven't and maybe you'll catch some of the magic.