The Storyteller Reports: The Ballad of Ray Bradbury

RANT OF THE WEEK: Ray Bradbury vs. The Internet

You know who Ray Bradbury is? He’s a writer, and I love him. See “Storyteller of the Week” below if you want to know why. For now, know that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 a dystopian novel that was the most frightening thing I ever read in high school.

I had deep esteem for the guy because of that book. Now it turns outs that he hates e-books. In fact, according to BBC, he turned down 3 different offers to make Fahrenheit 451 an e-book. Specifically, it seems, he told them to “go to hell.”

Until now. BBC brought up that quote as they reported that Mr. Bradbury had caved in at last. I’ll let the Brits take care of the details. I want to say something about the implications.

This is a startling turnaround for a guy like Bradbury. You don’t write a novel about a nation consumed by greed and technology, slam new technology in your own day, and then suddenly revert and embrace it unles syou have a good reason. BBC talks about how it would have been difficult to renew Fharneheit 451‘s publishing rights without allowing an e-book edition. I don’t buy that.

Would Bradbury have really thought that much about money? By letting them do something with his book that he doesn’t like, something that he seems to be correlating with the mindless future of his book, might he be submitting to that mindless future? And that begs another question. Have we, too, submitted to that mindless future? If so, how? If so, when?

Think about it.


Now let me tell you how our boy Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451.changed my life.

I read Fahrenheit 451 as an assignment for high school. 5 pages after beginning, I had completely forgotten that it was an assignment. I read ahead without a single thought. I devoured it. I consumed it, like the flames that consume all meaningful books in the story.

By the time I was finished, I was walking through high school with both eyes wide open. Bradbury created a convincing and horrifying society of addiction and vapidity, and I could see it all around me in school. I saw kids plugged into iPods, and moaning about how dumb Charles Dickens was, using foul, vulgar words without thinking about their meaning. I saw them glued to television screens, and looking with half-closed eyes at teachers, daring them to try breaching their apathy.

“I’m living in a dystopia,” I thought to myself, melodramatically.

I still have those moments from time to time. They haunt me, just as Bradbury’s prose haunts me. I can feel myself darken a little, just writing this post. That is no hyperbole, dear reader. I truly think our society has become Bradbury’s nightmare to some degree.

For being a modern Cassandra, I award him the honor of Storyteller of the Week.


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