Monday, November 03, 2008

On Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is one of my favourite authors. His most famous book 'Farenheit 451' is about a fireman whose job it is to start fires. He is assigned to burn books. The book is set in the future with a totalitarian government that is controlling what everybody does or sees. Anybody who harbours books basically is killed. The main character ends up getting interested in books and ends up getting chased.....and I won't tell you the end.
I love books that deal with a post-apocalyptic world or a world where society has changed dramatically. Anyways, the common thought was always that the book (which was fist published in 1953) was a book about the crushing of free speech and censorship. So when I stumbled across this BoingBoing article by Cory Doctorow (whose writings I have been stumbling across quite a bit lately) I was mildly surprised that it was really supposed to be about the evils of TV. I can see why he wrote it that way though. There were a lot of TV screens and emphasis on the 'I want it now' society that it breeds. There was no care for anybody else. Really truly sad. I think he took TV to its ultimate conclusion. So I am not sure if this makes the book better or worse. Either way I still think Bradbury is fantastic.

Here is a quote from Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction (stolen from wikipedia) where Bradbury describes his book.

In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.

I think that proves his point.

Another reason I like him is he really does not like Micheal Moore for using a play on his book title for his movie Farenheit 9/11. In the documentary 'Manufacturing Dissent' Bradbury goes on a small tirade about how Moore doesn't understand what his book was about. That really raised my respect for the author because we all know how much I love Micheal Moore.
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