Ray Bradbury: centenary of the author who anticipated the dilemmas of technology

When Ray Bradbury published Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, he imagined a world dominated by audiovisual culture and in which the written word was prohibited. On August 22, 1920, a young man was born in Illinois who would become, self-taught, one of the masters of American literature, with a dazzling analytical capacity and an imagination capable of imagining futures as creative as they were close to reality.

“It is no longer necessary to burn books to destroy culture, it is enough to direct people not to read them” and “that is what is happening”, Bradbury told an Italian newspaper twenty years ago.

Almost half a century earlier, the writer had published his masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451whose title refers to the temperature at which paper begins to burn, a futuristic story about a society that turns its back on letters and that today continues to attract readers and nurtures countless references.

contrary to the INTERNET AND THE SLAVERY OF THE IMAGE. The statements that Bradbury gave before he died in California, in 2012, anticipated many of the debates that in 2022 question the dependence on social networks, the obsession with the Internet and the dehumanization of technology. “We have too many mobile phones. We have too many networks. We have to get rid of those machines, we have too many, ”he said in an interview with Los Angeles Times in 2010.

At that time Facebook was taking off and people were beginning to understand what it was about “smart phones” that today are used for almost everything. But Bradbury was always ahead of his time, showing his disagreement with the abuse of the image when televisions arrived in homes in the 20th century, then bragging about not using computers and finally expressing his skepticism about the value of the Internet for society. From the network of networks he came to affirm that he had reduced the ability of people to communicate and hold conversations with others.

he preferred the label ‘fantasy’ to ‘science fiction’. An avowed admirer of Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne, Bradbury considered himself “a storyteller for moral purposes” and liked to identify his genre with fantasy. He rejected the label that placed him as “master of science fiction” since he was not only a creator of dystopias and was able to write about the unreal, even in an optimistic way. “I don’t write science fiction (…) science fiction is a description of reality. Fantasy is a description of the unreal”, and as an example of fantasy he put Martian Chroniclesa story that he compared to “the Greek myths.”

But that classic myth was as modern and renewed as could be expected from the American, who said that he had high hopes that man would be able to settle on Mars one day, to “leave the problems of Earth behind and start over again.” new”.

Showing off his great sense of humor, Bradbury assured that he would have liked to be buried on Mars, where he hoped his books would be read and that they would cause laughter among the colonizers because of how inaccurate his descriptions would be. After Martian Chronicles followed the illustrated man, summer wine, the fair of darkness, The golden apples of the sun, remedy for melancholy, The machines of joy and It Came from Outer Spaceadapted to the cinema by himself.

self-taught in libraries for not going to university. Perhaps part of the great imagination and creativity of the writer was that his education was based on reading, since he could not go to university due to financial problems. “Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges or universities. I believe in libraries, because most students don’t have money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for ten years straight,” he once stated. So from his youth he began to train as a writer in a self-taught way, dividing his time between selling newspapers and long stays in the library, where he avidly devoured science fiction novels by great authors such as Jules Verne or Mery Shelley.

He quickly began to write short stories in an amateur way, until in 1947 he managed to publish his first compilation, which he titled Dark Carnival. From then on, Bradbury worked as a storyteller and screenwriter on numerous films and television series, including Moby-Dickdirected by John Huston in 1956.

‘FAHRENHEIT 451’. In 1966, François Truffaut adapted for celluloid the novel Fahrenheit 451, where a dystopian society is presented in which culture, and thought itself, are in the strictest illegality. Starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner, the film follows firefighter Guy Montag in a world where they burn books and not put out fires.

‘THE ILLUSTRATED MAN’. Directed by Jack Smight the illustrated man tells the story of a heavily tattooed man (Rod Steiger) on the hunt for the woman responsible for them. Adaptation of a collection of stories by Bradbury that mixes several stories, all of them told through the tattoos of the protagonist.

‘THE NOISE OF A THUNDER’. Based on the short story by Bradbury the noise of thunder, the story places us in 2054, in an era in which time travel has become a hobby for wealthy people. A company run by Ben Kingsley has organized safaris to hunt prehistoric dinosaurs, unaware that the slightest change in the past will trigger a ‘butterfly effect’ with dire results in the present.

MARTIAN CHRONICLES’. Rock Hudson, Gayle Hunnicutt and Fritz Weaver star in the adaptation of one of Bradbury’s best-known novels, directed by Michael Anderson. It is a 3-episode miniseries that narrates the human colonization of Mars, after fleeing from an Earth about to be destroyed.

‘THE CARNIVAL OF DARKNESS’. With a script by Bradbury himself and directed by British director Jack Clayton, Disney produced in 1983 The Carnival of Darknessthe story of two young people who one day attend the arrival of a traveling circus, who as they soon discover hides a dark and dangerous secret behind a facade of fun and joy.

Ray Bradbury: centenary of the author who anticipated the dilemmas of technology