Obama issues statement on Ray Bradbury’s death

<i>This post has been updated, as indicated below.</i>

WASHINGTON – President Obama paid tribute to the memory of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury Wednesday after the renowned author died at the age of 91.

Citing Bradbury’s “gift for storytelling” that “reshaped our culture and expanded our world,” Obama praised the author of 11 novels and 600 short stories, for understanding “that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change and an expression of our most cherished values.”

Bradbury, as reported by The Times in 2010, wasn’t particularly fond of the direction the country was heading in, criticizing the Obama administration for its space exploration policies and the expansion of government.

PHOTOS: Ray Bradbury | 1920-2012

“He [Obama] should be announcing that we should go back to the moon. We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever,” he said.

“There is too much government today,” he later added. “We’ve got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people and for the people.”

Bradbury’s daughter Alexandra, one of four daughters he had with his late wife Marguerite McClure, confirmed his death Wednesday. Born in Illinois, Bradbury moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and died in his home in the Cheviot Hills area of the city.

Bradbury is most widely known for his dystopian classic “Fahrenheit 451,” released in 1953, but he also wrote the widely read “The Martian Chronicles” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

He often sought to dispel his categorization as a science fiction writer during his life.

“I’m not a science fiction writer. I’ve written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451”]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can’t happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen,” he is often quoted as saying.

The statement on Bradbury isn’t the first time that Obama has revealed his appreciation for science fiction, with the president’s longstanding love of “Star Trek” recently culminating with a “Vulcan salute” with actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the original series, in the Oval Office. And during his tenure in the Senate, his website hosted an image of him posing in front of a statue of Superman.

“I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the planet Earth,” he once joked in at an Alfred Smith dinner in 2008.

Obama’s full statement on Bradbury:

“For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

PHOTOS: Ray Bradbury | 1920-2012
[For the Record, 2:56 p.m. PST June 6: An earlier version of this post said Bradbury had written 27 novels. Actually, he has authored 11 novels, some of which were a series of connected stories, along with several additional collections of short stories and other writings.]