View Full Version : Ray Bradbury Dies at 91

June 6th, 2012, 12:27 PM
"It was a pleasure to burn." And it was a pleasure to read.

Iconic science fiction writer Ray Bradbury dies at 91 Author’s stories of nuclear fears and totalitarian regimes set a science fiction standard

By Scott StumpTODAY books
updated 42 minutes ago2012-06-06T15:36:02

Ray Bradbury, the author of classics such as “Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked this Way Comes” and “The Martian Chronicles,” died Tuesday night in Los Angeles at the age of 91.
Bradbury’s daughter confirmed the death of the legendary science fiction writer to the Associated Press Wednesday morning.
‘Fahrenheit 451’ finally released as an e-book (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45480372/ns/today-books/t/fahrenheit-finally-released-e-book/)
Bradbury began his career writing science fiction for fanzines in 1938 and became a full-time writer in 1943. His major breakthrough as a science fiction writer was the publishing of “The Martian Chronicles” in 1950. The story of the effects of man’s attempt to colonize Mars after a massive nuclear war on Earth, the book reflected the anxieties over nuclear war in the 1950s and the fear of foreign powers.

Perhaps his best-known book is “Fahrenheit 451,” which was released in 1953 and tells the story of a professional book-burner who works under a totalitarian government that has outlawed the written word. The main character, Montag, flees for his life after he starts stealing books meant to be burned and falls under the tutelage of a professor out to educate him.

While Bradbury's books often focused on his vision of the future, he scorned modern technologies such as video games, ATMs and the Internet, the last of which he considered a scam to enrich computer companies.
Several of the author's works became movies or television shows, including the movie version of his novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Versions of Bradbury’s stories appeared on episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone,” and he also had his own cable series, “Ray Bradbury Theater,” that ran from 1986-1992.
Risky reads! 5 books that have been banned (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44699167/ns/today-books/t/risky-reads-books-have-been-banned/)
Among the awards Bradbury won during his career, he received the O. Henry Memorial Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. His work also appeared three times in the Best American Short Stories collections.


June 6th, 2012, 02:11 PM

The Martial Chronicles was great.I liked the Illustrated Man as well.

But odd for a man who talked of interplanetary settlement would be so fearful/resentful of the internet. I could understand things like video games, but his dislike of the internet is just technophobia (from a Sci-Fi writer!).

June 6th, 2012, 02:49 PM
If you read the book, what do you think Fahrenheit 451 is about?

June 6th, 2012, 03:54 PM
I didn't read it. ;)

June 6th, 2012, 04:25 PM
Didn't you go to high school?

June 6th, 2012, 07:37 PM
Ray Bradbury foresaw the future — and didn’t trust it

He disliked flying and driving and feared for the fate of the written word

http://msnbcmedia4.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/tdy-120606-bradbury-obit-03.grid-6x2.jpgDan Tuffs / Getty ImagesScience fiction author Ray Bradbury in his home in Los Angeles, California in 2008.

By Rick Schindler
TODAY books
updated 6/6/2012 11:38:37 AM ET2012-06-06T15:38:37

Ray Bradbury was the last of the giants of mid-20th century American science fiction, a select fraternity that also comprised Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. The most literary of that pantheon, his work spanned many media, including science fiction pulp magazines, episodic television, and motion pictures — but passion for the written word and fear for its survival may be his most enduring legacy.
Several of his classic stories have become embedded into the culture, including “A Sound of Thunder,” in which a time traveler’s inadvertent killing of a butterfly has ominous repercussions, a concept now known as the “butterfly effect,” and “There Will Come Soft Rains,” which foresaw the modern “smart house” controlled by automation.
Like Clarke, who predicted the communications satellite before it existed; Heinlein, who got the idea for remote-control hands called “waldos” that are in common use today; and Asimov, many of whose ideas about robotics have come to pass, Bradbury was not just a writer: He was a prophet.
Bradbury honed his craft in an era when the short story thrived: “The Martian Chronicles,” one of his most famous works, spans the genres of short story and novel, linking magazine stories he wrote about the colonization of Mars into a narrative. “Chronicles” also crossed over into many other media, including radio drama, a 1979 TV miniseries, comic books, and several episodes of the TV series “The Ray Bradbury Theater,” which ran from 1985 to ’92, first on HBO and then on USA.

Among the many other adaptations of Bradbury’s work are “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” (1953), partially inspired by his story “The Fog Horn” and featuring stop-motion special effects by Bradbury’s close friend Ray Harryhausen; “The Illustrated Man” (1969), an adaptation of three stories starring Rod Steiger; and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (1983), a Disney production. But when I interviewed him about “The Ray Bradbury Theater” in ’85, he was less than pleased with most of the film versions of his work, with one major exception: director Francois Truffaut’s 1966 “Fahrenheit 451,” an artistic rendering of Bradbury’s vision of a dystopian future where television rules supreme and all books are burned.
In fact, even though Bradbury often correctly predicted technology, he maintained a lifelong distrust of it, fearing even to fly or drive. His heart was in his native Midwest – he used thinly disguised versions of his hometown of Waukegan, Ill., as the setting for many stories – and works like “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked” are rife with nostalgia for childhood.
He loved the printed word, and warned of a time when it might become extinct. And our current age of Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging may be his most accurate – and ominous – prophecy of all.


June 7th, 2012, 08:57 AM
Didn't you go to high school?


And I read many books, but F451 was not one of them.

I guess Camus and Kierkegaard just do not measure up.....

(BTW, illustrated Man was what I read from Bradbury in HS, along with others from other authors like the Canterbury Tales...)

June 7th, 2012, 09:33 AM
Lofter gives NH a mental wedgie. :)

The reason I asked if you read the book is that it explains Bradbury's views on the Internet, at least since the time he stated that the meaning was misinterpreted. We all thought it was about government censorship, but apparently, it wasn't.

From a 2007 article:
Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. It is widely taught in junior high and high schools and is for many students the first time they learn the names Aristotle, Dickens and Tolstoy.

Now, Bradbury has decided to make news about the writing of his iconographic work and what he really meant. Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury’s authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.


HE SAYS THE CULPRIT in Fahrenheit 451 is not the state — it is the people. Unlike Orwell’s 1984, in which the government uses television screens to indoctrinate citizens, Bradbury envisioned television as an opiate. In the book, Bradbury refers to televisions as “walls” and its actors as “family,” a truth evident to anyone who has heard a recap of network shows in which a fan refers to the characters by first name, as if they were relatives or friends.


Most Americans did not have televisions when Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, and those who did watched 7-inch screens in black and white. Interestingly, his book imagined a future of giant color sets — flat panels that hung on walls like moving paintings. And television was used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention, and thought, away from an impending war.Full article (http://www.laweekly.com/2007-05-31/news/ray-bradbury-fahrenheit-451-misinterpreted/)

I found this quote by Bradbury on his Wiki page:
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.

Fast forward into the 21st century, and you can imagine what Bradbury must have thought about so many people walking around plugged into smartphones.

June 7th, 2012, 10:03 AM
Maybe Mr. B was the real author of one of the many online comments about plugged-in obliviotons, seen everywhere.

But then that would require that Ray played around on the internet. Which, I guess, is unlikely.

June 7th, 2012, 01:26 PM
the best mean story ever....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QWmahMdeGU&list=PLA1AE09B92B04C27A&index=180&featu re=plpp_video

June 7th, 2012, 01:27 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI8A1LOLdkA&list=PLA1AE09B92B04C27A&index= 181&feature=plpp_video

June 7th, 2012, 01:28 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQfWno_DuB0&list=PLA1AE09B92B04C27A&index= 182&feature=plpp_video

June 7th, 2012, 04:56 PM
Is that the one on Mars? (at work, cannot watch...)

June 8th, 2012, 04:19 PM
This op-ed piece goes a long way of answering Ninj's question regarding Bradbury and his views on technolgy


June 8, 2012

Uncle Ray’s DystopiaBy Tim KreiderIF you’d wanted to know which way the world was headed in the mid-20th century, you wouldn’t have found much indication in any of the day’s literary prizewinners. You’d have been better advised to consult a book from a marginal genre with a cover illustration of a stricken figure made of newsprint catching fire.

Prescience is not the measure of a science-fiction author’s success — we don’t value the work of H. G. Wells because he foresaw the atomic bomb or Arthur C. Clarke for inventing the communications satellite — but it is worth pausing, on the occasion of Ray Bradbury’s death, to notice how uncannily accurate was his vision of the numb, cruel future we now inhabit.

Mr. Bradbury’s most famous novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” features wall-size television screens that are the centerpieces of “parlors” where people spend their evenings watching interactive soaps and vicious slapstick, live police chases and true-crime dramatizations that invite viewers to help catch the criminals. People wear “seashell” transistor radios that fit into their ears. Note the perversion of quaint terms like “parlor” and “seashell,” harking back to bygone days and vanished places, where people might visit with their neighbors or listen for the sound of the sea in a chambered nautilus.

Mr. Bradbury didn’t just extrapolate the evolution of gadgetry; he foresaw how it would stunt and deform our psyches. “It’s easy to say the wrong thing on telephones; the telephone changes your meaning on you,” says the protagonist of the prophetic short story “The Murderer.” “First thing you know, you’ve made an enemy.”

Anyone who’s had his intended tone flattened out or irony deleted by e-mail and had to explain himself knows what he means. The character complains that he’s relentlessly pestered with calls from friends and employers, salesmen and pollsters, people calling simply because they can. Mr. Bradbury’s vision of “tired commuters with their wrist radios, talking to their wives, saying, ‘Now I’m at Forty-third, now I’m at Forty-fourth, here I am at Forty-ninth, now turning at Sixty-first” has gone from science-fiction satire to dreary realism.

“It was all so enchanting at first,” muses our protagonist. “They were almost toys, to be played with, but the people got too involved, went too far, and got wrapped up in a pattern of social behavior and couldn’t get out, couldn’t admit they were in, even.”

Most of all, Mr. Bradbury knew how the future would feel: louder, faster, stupider, meaner, increasingly inane and violent. Collective cultural amnesia, anhedonia, isolation. The hysterical censoriousness of political correctness. Teenagers killing one another for kicks. Grown-ups reading comic books. A postliterate populace. “I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths,” says the fire captain in “Fahrenheit,” written in 1953. “No one wanted them back. No one missed them.” Civilization drowned out and obliterated by electronic chatter. The book’s protagonist, Guy Montag, secretly trying to memorize the Book of Ecclesiastes on a train, finally leaps up screaming, maddened by an incessant jingle for “Denham’s Dentrifice.” A man is arrested for walking on a residential street. Everyone locked indoors at night, immersed in the social lives of imaginary friends and families on TV, while the government bombs someone on the other side of the planet. Does any of this sound familiar?

The hero of “The Murderer” finally goes on a rampage and smashes all the yammering, blatting devices around him, expressing remorse only over the Insinkerator — “a practical device indeed,” he mourns, “which never said a word.” It’s often been remarked that for a science-fiction writer, Mr. Bradbury was something of a Luddite — anti-technology, anti-modern, even anti-intellectual. (“Put me in a room with a pad and a pencil and set me up against a hundred people with a hundred computers,” he challenged a Wired magazine interviewer (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/6.10/bradbury.html), and swore he would “outcreate” every one.)

But it was more complicated than that; his objections were not so much reactionary or political as they were aesthetic. He hated ugliness, noise and vulgarity. He opposed the kind of technology that deadened imagination, the modernity that would trash the past, the kind of intellectualism that tried to centrifuge out awe and beauty. He famously did not care to drive or fly, but he was a passionate proponent of space travel, not because of its practical benefits but because he saw it as the great spiritual endeavor of the age, our generation’s cathedral building, a bid for immortality among the stars.

His visions of a better world weren’t high-tech but archaic, bucolic. In “Fahrenheit,” Montag remembers “a farm he had visited when he was very young, one of the rare few times he had discovered that somewhere behind the seven veils of unreality, beyond the walls of parlors and the tin moat of the city, cows chewed cud and pigs sat in warm ponds at noon and dogs barked after white sheep on a hill.” His utopia isn’t some flying city or exotic planet but prewar, small-town America — specifically, Waukeagan, Ill., circa 1928, a town of porch swings and bandshells, dandelion wine stored up in cool cellars and fire balloons on the Fourth of July. His Martians are not alien like Heinlein’s or futuristically evolved like Welles’s but a premodern people akin to the ancient Egyptians or American Indians (or a boy’s idealized conception of them), our superiors not technologically but spiritually. He was, like most of my favorite artists, a misanthropic humanist.

There’s already been a lot of rhapsodizing about Ray Bradbury’s “sense of wonder,” the dark magic and October chill he infused into his work. But let’s not turn him into something harmless, a kindly, childlike uncle spinning marvelous tales of rocket ships and dinosaurs. Don’t forget that he was also the crazy uncle, the dangerous one, a malcontent and a crank, alarming everyone at the dinner table with impassioned rants and dire warnings. (For a bracing antidote to his sentimentality, reread the demented revenge fantasy “Usher II,” in which an entire board of censors is meticulously killed off after the manner of Edgar Allan Poe stories.)

The obverse of his reverence for the natural world was a keen-edged contempt for the greedy men and crass, destructive culture that would gladly bulldoze it for a buck. “We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things,” says the archæologist Jeff Spender in “—And the Moon Be Still as Bright” from “The Martian Chronicles.” “The only reason we didn’t set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose.” There isn’t a hot-dog stand at Karnak yet, but I’m advised there are tourist shops selling pricey bottled water and Pharaonic souvenirs made in China.

I think of Ray Bradbury’s work often these days. I remember “The Murderer” whenever I ask for directions or make a joke to someone who can’t hear me because of her ear buds, when I see two friends standing back-to-back in a crowd yelling “Where are you?” into their phones, or I’m forced to eavesdrop on somebody prattling on Bluetooth in that sanctum sanctorum, the library. I think of “Fahrenheit 451” every time I see a TV screen in an elevator or a taxi or a gas pump or over a urinal. When the entire hellish engine of the media seemed geared toward the concerted goal of forcing me to know, against my will, about a product called “Lady Gaga,” I thought: Denham’s Dentrifice.

It is thanks to Ray Bradbury that I understand this world I grew into for what it is: a dystopian future. And it is thanks to him that we know how to conduct ourselves in such a world: arm yourself with books. Assassinate your television. Go for walks, and talk with your neighbors. Cherish beauty; defend it with your life. Become a Martian.


June 8th, 2012, 05:23 PM
Irony being that some of the better pieces of independent literature ARE comics these days.

Not the pulp fiction of the 50's, but involved human stories set in fantastic circumstance (the Walking Dead being one of them).

Good article though. Scary how sometimes a pessimistic technophobe (techno-racist?) can be right.

June 10th, 2012, 08:26 AM
Rest in peace, Ray.

Fascinating and informative thread. I haven't read the book, but the film version of Fahrenheit 451 is a 1960s favourite, not least for Julie Christie's dual role.

They don't make promos like this anymore :):


Someone here who's both read the book and seen the film? Comparisons?

June 10th, 2012, 06:24 PM
I wonder what Ray thought of the movie? I haven't seen it.

June 11th, 2012, 05:06 AM
Oh, dear :(.

The Ray Bradbury profile in the LA Weekly People Issue of 2009 (http://www.laweekly.com/2009-04-23/la-life/thewriter/) quoted him as saying:
"Mel Gibson owns Fahrenheit 451 ... The mistake they made with the first one was to cast Julie Christie as both the revolutionary and the bored wife."

He can’t stand filmmaker Michael Moore, who titled Fahrenheit 9/11 without contacting Bradbury. At the mere mention of Moore, Bradbury issues a particularly loud, throaty hum. “He stole without asking permission. He’s a fat bastard, and he doesn’t make real documentaries.”


June 11th, 2012, 08:50 AM
Someone here who's both read the book and seen the film? Comparisons?

Oh, dear :(.

The Ray Bradbury profile in the LA Weekly People Issue of 2009 (http://www.laweekly.com/2009-04-23/la-life/thewriter/) quoted him as saying:
"Mel Gibson owns Fahrenheit 451 ... The mistake they made with the first one was to cast Julie Christie as both the revolutionary and the bored wife."

While the novel presented an oppressive and bleak society, the narrative was vivid. In the film, the dialog lacked pace, and I thought it was boring. I found out recently that Fahrenheit 451 was Francois Truffaut's first English language film, and he spoke almost no English at the time.

Film versions usually must omit characters to fit time constraints, but how could they leave out Faber.

The big differences are Clarisse, and the endings. I thought that book-people walking around reciting classic novels by rote was especially depressing.

I agree that Julie Christie was miscast, all the more that she was given a dual role, which she didn't pull off.

June 11th, 2012, 09:57 AM
Can you elaborate on why she didn't pull it off? I suppose I'm biased because I've always really admired Julie Christie and her acting career, and I just can't imagine anyone else playing the roles. Do you have any ideas about who would have been better suited/done it better? Different actresses for each role, maybe?

June 11th, 2012, 01:44 PM
Truffaut substantially changed the role of Clarisse in the film. He made is like Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

Julie Christie's career soared in the early 1960s, and she became the Zeitgeist. She dominated the film by her presence. Maybe it was her popularity, but I don't think she differentiated the two roles; it seemed to me like Julie Christie after a visit to the wardrobe department.

On the other hand, the film was somewhat small in production values. Oskar Werner was coming off his role in Ship of Fools, but he was still not widely known. The story is about his character.

Truffaut should have followed the book, and cast two actresses.

June 11th, 2012, 05:11 PM
An English class project: Trailer for an unmade version of Fahrenheit 451, with two current actresses cast as Mildred Montag & Clarisse ...

(these days naming any character Clarisse is problematic, especially for film fans)


June 11th, 2012, 05:12 PM

June 11th, 2012, 05:14 PM
Ray is right: Michael Moore doesn't make real documentaries. But he has been known to make entertaining movies.

June 12th, 2012, 09:02 AM
Problem is simple.

The truth rarely sells tickets.

Rupert figured that out a LONG time ago.

But, just like fruit drinks, you put 20% of the "real stuff" in there and instantly you are better than absolute pablum....


June 12th, 2012, 10:15 AM
I don't think she differentiated the two roles

Mmmm, I really thought she did. Her Mildred reminded me a bit of her role as the amoral Diana in Darling, and therefore completely different to her (I think) idealistic and righteous Clarisse.

Truffaut's interpretation is more at fault than Julie Christie, imo.

June 12th, 2012, 11:22 AM
I don't think it was a fault in her characterization; it was her celebrity.