It is because of him that I write fantasy and science fiction. It is because of him that I love words and strive for lyrical, evocative, luscious, vibrant prose. It is because of him that I learned something important about science fiction and fantasy: It is not escapist fiction the intent of which is to make reality go away.
No, no. Far from it. Ray Bradbury taught me that the purpose of fantasy and its “robot child”, science fiction, was to, in his words, “make reality behave by pretending to look the other way.”
We seek solutions for today’s problems by framing them in the future or in a world that doesn’t exist. I am fortunate to be able to make my living pretending to look the other way when I am really not. Writers are sneaky. We are always watching, listening, contemplating reality, putting ourselves into endless other pairs of shoes to see the world, thereby, the way someone else sees it, so that we can catch reality unawares and warn of potentials, explore possibilities and suggest solutions.
So, if it seems that I am looking the other way, know that I am not. I’m only pretending.