I meant to get to this yesterday – to eulogize a writer who, every bit as much as e.e. cummings and (mea culpa) James Michener, first inspired me to want to be a writer. Instead, I will let Orson Scott Card do it for me – stealing much of what I would have wanted to say.
I only add that there are two camps when it comes to appraising Bradbury’s work: One camp holds that Bradbury is first and foremoest a sci-fi writer. The other claims that sci-fi settings were only the background for his truly human and uniquely inventive dramas. (cf. “The Veldt” esp.)
Put me squarely in the latter camp. Unlike, say, Asimov or Clarke, Bradbury was not so interested in how technology could change humanity. Rather, more akin to Tolkien and Homer, he was interested in what remained the same about humanity – whether in Middle Earth or on the Trojan plains or the virtual reality of the African veldt.
Perhaps best put it this way: Bradbury was a sci-fi writer to exactly the same extent that Twain was a Southern writer. Both used their setting effectively, but transcending it, neither could ever be defined by it.
I don’t know how time will judge Bradbury, but for my money, I’ll bet you he’ll be read well into the future…