- 07 June 2012
- By John Howell
Author Ray Bradbury, best know for his iconic science fiction and fantasy novels The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes and especially Fahrenheit 451, has died at the age of 91 after a lengthy illness. Throughout his long writing career, Bradbury produced hundreds of short stories, nearly fifty books, numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays and screenplays.
Published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 was an iconic dystopian tale that focused on censorship in a world where books are banned and fireman don't put out fires, but instead have the task of burning books whenever they are found. The lead character, Guy Montag, starts to doubt his book burning occupation after he hears about a past where people were not afraid of ideas and freedom of expression.
Here are a couple of great passages from the Fahrenheit 451, where a retired English Professor speaks to Montag:
"Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical about them at all. The magic is only with what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment."
"I know, I know. You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited from. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."
Ray Bradbury is one of science fiction's leading lights. Along with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Frank Herbert, his writing has shaped modern science fiction and has inspired generations. Although gone, his ideas, imagination and words will live on. Fortunately we do not yet live in a world where books are burnt and ideas are surpressed (at least some of us don't anyway...).
Watch an old video clip of Ray Bradbury talking about his writing and the movie adaptation of his novel The Illustrated Man below:
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