As Venus slipped back into the dark shroud of space last night, she may have taken along one of our best — science fiction author Ray Bradbury.

The creative mind behind “The Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451″ and “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” died Tuesday night in Los Angeles. He was 91.

His publisher, Harper Collins, said Bradbury “died peacefully … after a lengthy illness,” not a bad way to go, all things considered.

Bradbury’s prolific writing career spanned more than 70 years.

“Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think and create,” Harper Collins said.

Associated Press reports that in a book of essays published in 2005, Bradbury wrote, “In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.

“Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”

Ad Astra, Mr. Bradbury. You are an inspiration.

Image: Ray Bradbury, during a photo shoot at his home in Los Angeles in 2008 Credit: Getty Images