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Ray Bradbury Turns 88

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the bradbury-is-everywhere dept.

Sci-Fi 194

Lawrence Person writes "Legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury turned 88 years old on August 22. Happy Birthday Ray! 'The Illustrated Man' was one of the first science fiction books I ever read, and I've been hooked ever since. I'm sure that's true of a lot of science fiction writers and readers, be it that, or 'The Martian Chronicles,' or 'Fahrenheit 451.' There are also several videos of Ray on that page, including one where he doesn't endorse Sunsweet Prunes." I remember when another student on the bus loaned me "Fahrenheit 451," and my middle-school English teacher Mrs. Young was smart enough to include "All Summer in a Day" in her curriculum.

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"Slow News Day" tag? (0, Troll)

mattgoldey (753976) | about 6 years ago | (#24730123)

Should this really make the front page of Shlashdot? A writer's birthday? Someone tag this "slow news day" please.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (5, Insightful)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 6 years ago | (#24730147)

Yeah, it should, considering he is one of the most influential SF writers to date. Slashdot loves scifi, so, we love to hear about this stuff.

There's a reason why Foundation and Dune come up a lot.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (3, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | about 6 years ago | (#24730237)

I have to agree with the grandparent post. Sure, Ray Bradbury is important in the sci-fi world. But is he anymore important than say Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison? We don't mention their birthdays here. Other people of importance for whom birthdays we don't mention on Slashdot either: Stephen Hawking, Kip Thorne, William Gibson, and the all important etc. So, yes, it is a slow news day.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (0, Troll)

pieisgood (841871) | about 6 years ago | (#24730421)

No, Edgar Rice Burroughs should be mentioned on the front page (even though he's dead) . Ray Bradbury should be condemned for his awful writing and pompous attitude.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (5, Insightful)

hubie (108345) | about 6 years ago | (#24731613)

I don't think anyone questions his credentials, but I think it does make for a slow news day to point out his 88th birthday. Is this an annual announcement that is made here? Were there front page stories for his 73rd, 68th, or what about 86th?

For what it is worth, it also was the 91st birthday of John Lee Hooker, the 69th birthday of Carl Yastrzemski, and the 146th birthday of Claude Debussy. If you want to argue that these people don't fit in with the slashdot crowd (and before you do, don't forget that baseball nerds and geeks by far predate computer geeks), shouldn't we have mentioned that the 11th was Steve Wozniak's 58th birthday, the 7th was James Randi's 80th birthday (good lord, I didn't know he was that old, but at least that is one of those decadal numbers people get all worked up about), the 5th was Neil Armstrong's 78th, and the 19th would have been Gene Roddenberry's 87th birthday.

Unless there is some significance to this particular birthday, I would have to agree with the GP that it must be a slow news day for this to make the front page.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (2, Insightful)

TuringTest (533084) | about 6 years ago | (#24730159)

Should this really make the front page of Shlashdot? A writer's birthday?

When the writer is Ray Bradbury, yes, it should.

And isn't 88 a special age for hobbits, or something?

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (4, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 6 years ago | (#24730203)

And isn't 88 a special age for hobbits, or something?

No, it's the age at which science fiction authors start to travel backwards in time [wikipedia.org] .

Hobbits (2, Insightful)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 6 years ago | (#24731247)

And isn't 88 a special age for hobbits, or something?

You are thinking of "eleventy-one."

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | about 6 years ago | (#24730229)

If you can find me one geek who doesn't list an SF writer as a major influence in their interest in technology, then I'll agree with you.

I have my doubts that you would succeed though. For me it was Douglas Adams.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (2, Insightful)

echucker (570962) | about 6 years ago | (#24730315)

Actually, some of the geeks that are of the latest generation may lean more towards movies and games than the printed word. So I'd bet that not listing a SF author would be entirely possible.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730401)

Those are not geeks.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (3, Interesting)

Kugrian (886993) | about 6 years ago | (#24730727)

Those are not geeks.

Because they don't read sci-fi? I never did as a child, yet consider myself a geek. I've always read a lot, but never found any sci-fi books that really dragged me in.

What got me into tech were the movies depicting tech. Star Wars (IV), Tron, Wargames and Back to the Future (I). Playing with Lego and Mechano while watching them blew me away.

All the while I read a huge amount. Mostly fantasy, crime and horror. When I wasn't reading, I was probably either watching sci-fi movies, or playing games or creating text adventures on my Speccy.

As anyone who reads this is probably aware, shit changes - espically in the world of tech. Where we once read, we now may watch or listen instead. In another time slashdot may have been a newspaper with comments fueled by readers snail-mail. But it ain't.

If you don't think viewing sci-fi in other media makes you geeky enough, then start telegramming in your punch-card comments.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (3, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about 6 years ago | (#24730863)

No, there's somehting special about books. There's just very little actual content in movies and games. A movie has what, a 100 page script? And less than that for games.

In the room with me as I type this are about 40,000 pages of imaginative fiction, and that's the fraction of what I've read that I liked enough to keep through many moves. If your only exposure to other worlds is a few dozen skiffy movies, you've hardly left your head! Heck, you probably think skiffy is SF.

And I don't even consider myself a hardcore fan - I've never gotten drunk with Niven, or punched in the face by Ellison, or watched Asimov put his moves on a young female fan, I just read a bit in my spare time, just a book or two a week.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (1)

Gruff1002 (717818) | about 6 years ago | (#24731711)

Absolutely there is something special about books. Every sci-fi movie or series I have ever watched made me seek out the book to fill in the details. Every game or other physical techy subject has always brought me back to the written word, after all don't most things originate with writing whether it be in a spiral notebook or on the back of a napkin?

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (4, Interesting)

bigbigbison (104532) | about 6 years ago | (#24731773)

Not to nitpick but several games have rather lengthy scripts with many more lines than in a typical movie. Planescape: Torment, for example, is said to have a script of more than 800,000 words [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731969)

Games, depending on the genre, typically have much longer scripts than movies and books. An 80 hour rpg, for instance, is known to be hundreds of thousands of words long. Though the quality of the content is far from Bradbury so far.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (2, Insightful)

blackest_k (761565) | about 6 years ago | (#24731225)

Strange you do not associate scifi writers with the films that you enjoy. Do you realise there are many films where the book came first? Ray Bradbury in particular has been the source of many stories that have been adapted for the screen.

cutting for film loses depth and plot and takes away your part in a story, yes your imagination has an important part to play when reading a book.

unfortunately your settling for mcdonalds instead of visiting a real restaurant.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730437)

Correct. I'm 17 and I never have read SF. I don't know why, but it never really appealed to me.

(Movies were influential, yes, but for me it was amateur radio of all things. I wasn't smart enough, old enough, or rich enough to be a ham, but its books and a secondhand IBM PS/1 system fostered an alternate interest.)

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 6 years ago | (#24730241)

It fits right in on Slashdot, as does being two days late with the story.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730283)

Should this really make the front page of Shlashdot?

It may not be front page material on Shlashdot, but it sure is perfect front page material here on Slashdot. :P

But seriously, one of the world's most esteemed science fiction authors sure does belong.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (3, Interesting)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24730305)

Well i think it's news worthy in that it wasn't an obituary. How many of the great Sci-fi authors are left?

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730657)

Here is a great sci-fi author: Secondpillow [fanfiction.net]
There is even a cameo by Ray Bradbury.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (1)

p0ss (998301) | about 6 years ago | (#24731865)

Anne Mcaffery, Ursula K Le Guin, Orson Scott Card, Brian Aldiss, Larry Niven

Of the more recent crop we have Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge and William Gibson

And on a more mutimedia front we have Neil Gaman and Joss Whedon (He has one the Hugo Award, but then again, so has J.K Rowling).

We may have lost many of the Grand masters, but there will allways be young heros stepping up to the plate. I personally think Andre Infante [posthumanparables.com] shows a great level of promise, and returns my faith in the future of sci fi

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (3, Informative)

hey! (33014) | about 6 years ago | (#24730583)

I should think not.

Bradbury was one of the first science fiction authors to have a wider cultural impact outside of sci-fi fandom, and is still one of the most important.

Of course, there's no way to precisely rank the importance of writers in a genre; perhaps there were more influential writers within the genre, but clearly he is a writer of the first rank. Within his historical cohort, many have passed away: Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Robert Bloch, Arthur Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Gordy Dickson, Frank Herbert, Damon Knight, Stanislaw Lem, Kurt Vonnegut ... all were his contemporaries, all gone. Even Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling if you choose to include them.

Bradbury belongs to a seminal generation of science fiction writers. If you go back a decade earlier by birth date, you get a few names who are recognizably and undeniably part of the genre: H. Beam Piper, Robert Heinlein, Clifford D. Simak. Bradbury himself was a later bloomer, beginning his most important work in the 1950s, while his near exact contemporary Isaac Asimov was publishing a decade earlier, and who perhaps is a link to an earlier, pulpier age. If you go back even further, you get figures like Doc Smith (who was very advanced for his era) who were writing in a very different kind of genre.

The distinctive accomplishment of this generation of writers is that they raised the science fiction bar from thrilling adventure (although not stinting in that department) with serious literary craft, social critique, and scientific speculation, a fact that escaped the notice of wider audiences for years. Bradbury was one of the first to get noticed outside the club. And he did it without having to cross over into social satire, with sci-fi served up neat.

It's remarkable and happy news that Bradbury is still with us. There aren't many of that generation who are. Brian Aldiss, Anne McCaffrey, and Ursula LeGuin among the top tier writers. John Christopher, and Kate Wilhelm certainly.

So, yes, it's newsworthy that he's still with us.

Re:"Slow News Day" tag? (4, Informative)

lgw (121541) | about 6 years ago | (#24730907)

No SF author has ever creeped me out as much as Bradbury can. He can describe a happy summer day with just a note of ... something ... that makes you think you're in a horror story despite every description being pleasant. "There will come soft rains" from The Martian Chronicles still sticks with me 20 years after reading it for the first time, long after we stopped fearing the bomb. Truely a genius at his craft.

Happy Birthday Ray!! (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | about 6 years ago | (#24730171)

May you never reach 451 degrees.

The Pedestrian (5, Interesting)

samcan (1349105) | about 6 years ago | (#24730173)

I liked the short-story The Pedestrian. From what I hear, it was the basis for Fahrenheit 451, however, I think that one can get some different meanings out of each.

What's interesting about Fahrenheit 451 are some of the parallels that could be drawn to today's society. Guy Montag's wife has a seashell like device that she puts in her ears so she can listen to the radio, much like today we have iPods, where people can seem to be in their own little worlds.

The fascination she has too with the telescreens, and wanting to be involved in one of the, for lack of a better word, "soaps," could tell of our society's own inordinate fascination with the personal lives of the "rich and famous."

Finally, that overwhelming desire for more, another telescreen, even though the last one was put in within a year prior, could speak to our society's want for material goods.

Whether or not Mr. Bradbury believes our society could degenerate to a point where we burn books, I would argue that our society already contains elements of his fictional society.

The Pedestrian is similar in that the everyday man is fascinated with what takes place on his television screen, and cannot be bothered to calmly walk down the street and think.

One connection I believe can be found between the short story and the novel is that in The Pedestrian, the main character is arrested for walking down the street (as nobody does that anymore, he must be suspicious), and in Fahrenheit 451 the girl who talks to Guy Montag mentions that her uncle got arrested once for walking down the street.

Re:The Pedestrian (5, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | about 6 years ago | (#24730365)

Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell's 1984 should be required reading in our schools. But I don't think the folks who want to hang on to their power would like that.

The British and Australian MPs, on the other hand, appear to be using them as a policy guide. We're not too far behind.

Re:The Pedestrian (2, Interesting)

pieisgood (841871) | about 6 years ago | (#24730487)

Great Britain isn't far behind "1984". America isn't far behind "brave new world" and Russia/china aren't far behind "Fahrenheit 451" (just with a pinch of communism).

Re:The Pedestrian (4, Insightful)

samcan (1349105) | about 6 years ago | (#24730533)

Actually, in high school we read Animal Farm and 1984, and my middle school's library got kids to read Fahrenheit 451.

Maybe not the norm, but nice anyway. I sped-read through Brave New World. Didn't like it as much.

In one of my high school English classes, we actually discussed how one goes about creating a closed society. Relating it to the reading that we were doing (either 1984 or Animal Farm) gave a whole new dimension to the novel.

Re:The Pedestrian (1)

the 99th penguin (1453) | about 6 years ago | (#24730731)

Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell's 1984 should be required reading in our schools.

Don't forget Yevgeny Zamyatin's We [amazon.com]

Here in the US (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730753)

F 451, 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World were required reading in my schools in the late 70's - 80's.

Not sure if they still make the kids read these anymore. I hope so.

Re:Here in the US (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | about 6 years ago | (#24732393)

I remember reading all four of those during high school, which for me was 2001-2006, though I'm certain Animal Farm was for my own leisure. The remaining three I read for school, but the only one I'm sure that wasn't elective reading instead of required was Brave New World. I'm glad I read all of them though.

Re:The Pedestrian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730815)

They were both required in my school.

Re:The Pedestrian (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | about 6 years ago | (#24731101)

Here in Ontario, at least in the French boards, 451 is requirement in 10th grade. I have no idea any more if 1984 is required (but I did read it!).

Re:The Pedestrian (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | about 6 years ago | (#24731503)

I read 451 in high school English as well, but it was the sci-fi English course, not the core English curriculum. I was in an English school, not French.

Re:The Pedestrian (5, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | about 6 years ago | (#24731213)

Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell's 1984 should be required reading in our schools. But I don't think the folks who want to hang on to their power would like that.

Both are, in fact, commonly found in high school curricula - no reason to get all melodramatic (it takes more than a couple of books, no matter how poignant, to trouble those who "want to hang on to their power").

Re:The Pedestrian (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 6 years ago | (#24731245)

Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell's 1984 should be required reading in our schools.

Fahrenheit 451 was required reading when I was in high school, that was 1995 in ... Kansas City of all places. (tee hee!)

Dunno if that matters, but given some of the other things that have happened in Kansas schools in recent years, I thought a couple of you might find that amazing.

Re:The Pedestrian (1)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | about 6 years ago | (#24732137)

Both were part of my 10th grade English Literature class (nearly two decades ago). I don't know if that's still a part of the curriculum.

Re:The Pedestrian (5, Interesting)

Workaphobia (931620) | about 6 years ago | (#24730535)

I remember reading an account by Bradbury regarding Farenheit 451, in which he described walking down the street, passing a woman who was listening to a Walkman while walking several dogs, completely oblivious to her surroundings. He then states, "This is not a work of fiction."

It's been a while since I read the book, so while I remember that I enjoyed it, some of the details and even a portion of the main theme escape me. Along the lines of what you mentioned, my favorite passages from the book include the minimum speed limit of 60 mph in Montag's nightmare, and the part where he asks his wife what the play is about and she responds by naming the characters, as the play had absolutely no redeeming content.

So yes, it's a great tale of how we become lost in the more superficial aspects of our lives, but it's not a point that I necessarily agree with. For instance, I don't think that walking your dogs while listening to an audio player, digital or analog, constitutes losing touch with society.

Now that I reread your description of the Pedestrian, I'm fairly certain I have read it (probably in the back of a publication of Jonas and the Giver, back in middle school). Yes, it fits perfectly. What stands out the most is how their techno-skewed culture not only rejects nonconformity - it doesn't even comprehend it.

Of course, Farenheit 451 is also a great story about oppression by government. Not quite as biting and frightening as 1984, but it's up there. You can't control books the way you can televisions. You can't retroactively erase their content to suit your current propaganda or to eliminate inspiring ideas. Of course, more useful then the books themselves was the knowledge of who was harboring books, so you would know who rejected society's mandates and thus who must be destroyed.

Then again, Bradbury wrote a non-canonical passage in which Guy Montag was shocked by his firechief's personal library. The chief responded that it was only reading that was a crime, not possession.

Sigh. It's been a while. I wish I had the time and patience for reading, but since I'm no longer in high school and thus required to read, I just can't find the time, what with.. all these... modern distractions..

Dear God, this is indeed not a work of fiction.

Re:The Pedestrian (3, Insightful)

kungfugleek (1314949) | about 6 years ago | (#24730793)

I kind of thought that Fahrenheit 451 was less about government oppression and book burning, and more about a society that has become so apathetic that they allow the government to oppress them and burn their books. The second-scariest part of the book, for me, was that almost nobody really cared that the book burnings, oppression, and even the atomic war were even going on. The scariest part was how much it reminded me of the society I live in, or at least my perception of it.

Re:The Pedestrian (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731473)

Of course, Farenheit 451 is also a great story about oppression by government. Not quite as biting and frightening as 1984, but it's up there. You can't control books the way you can televisions. You can't retroactively erase their content to suit your current propaganda or to eliminate inspiring ideas. Of course, more useful then the books themselves was the knowledge of who was harboring books, so you would know who rejected society's mandates and thus who must be destroyed.

What I found particularly interesting was how apolitically Bradbury portrayed this oppression. He recognized that you don't have to be a far-right-wing book-burning Nazi fascist to fit the mold of 451 - you could just as easily be a member of the far-left-wing political correctness police.

hey timothy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730179)

nobody gives a shit about what your bi-curious bus experimentation or being molested by your teacher.

But he has a tombstone (4, Interesting)

AhtirTano (638534) | about 6 years ago | (#24730199)

Still alive, yet he still has a tombstone [flickr.com] in a cemetery in L.A. The same cemetery were Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin are buried. Strange, but true.

Re:But he has a tombstone (4, Interesting)

Trailwalker (648636) | about 6 years ago | (#24730551)

More normal than you think. Walk through most American cemeteries and you will see many markers/monuments in place for those yet living.

The Cemetery and Funeral businesses call these Pre-need sales and use them to maintain sales numbers.

As you kiddies will find out, when life gets near its end, the idea of selecting the services and memorials you want is very attractive. Pre-need is much less expensive than At Need. The "Death Industry" loves At Need sales. The families are easy marks for higher prices, and expensive, but unneeded services.

For a good book on the subject, try Jessica Mitford's "American Way of Death, revisited" circa 2000.

Re:But he has a tombstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731409)

As you kiddies will find out, when life gets near its end, the idea of selecting the services and memorials you want is very attractive.

I hope to shoot myself if ever I become so self-obsessed. Get a life now, before you die.

Re:But he has a tombstone (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#24732425)

The Cemetery and Funeral businesses call these Pre-need sales and use them to maintain sales numbers.

You make it sound dishonest. I assume that when you get a "pre-need" plot you have to actually pay for it? Then it's sold. When you buy a new residence, the sale occurs when you pay your money, not when you move in!

2 days late. (1)

Xupa (1313669) | about 6 years ago | (#24730207)

About average for slashdot. And anyone who doesn't think Bradbury's birthday is relevant on a tech forum needs their head checked, preferably into something made of steel.

Has anyone actually read Farenheit 452? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 6 years ago | (#24730285)

Bradbury's Farenheit 451 is really not that good. The writing is pretty poor, and the storytelling is uneven. Bradbury uses silliloquies to express his points. So what you end up with is a series of monotonous essays rather than an actual story.

Re:Has anyone actually read Farenheit 452? (1)

Xupa (1313669) | about 6 years ago | (#24730333)

This, from "BadAnalogyGuy." I'm sure your 88th birthday will be remembered. By someone.

Re:Has anyone actually read Farenheit 452? (2, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | about 6 years ago | (#24730377)

*shrug* I found it ok. I got around to reading it after watching/reading a bunch of other similarly themed works. Like Equilibrium. So really, I got spoiled into thinking there would be some sort of badass action scene.

Really, the fact that no part really stands out for me probably says something about the book. Reading it was kind of jarring, but I put it off at the 'disturbingness' of the plot/theme/idea. The only thing I remember is how close his wife behaved to stereotyped dumb blonds, NASCAR fans, and /.'s 'Joe Sixpack'.

Re:Has anyone actually read Farenheit 452? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730453)

Yeah, thanks for the book review, Mr. Pulitzer. I'll be sure to stay away from that "Farenheit 452"

Re:Has anyone actually read Farenheit 452? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731469)

Soliloquies or monologues? And are they really that intrusive?

Meh (1, Flamebait)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 6 years ago | (#24730287)

Clarke is dead but Bradbury persists. There is no God.

Oh yes, I've read your precious Fahrenheit and your Martian Chronicles, much to my dismay. Simply because he said 'teh future!' in one and 'Mars, bitches!' in the next somehow makes these browbeating, one-dimensional allegories that could literally have been set in any place and time "Great Works in Science Fiction" (TM).

H. G. Wells. E. E. Smith. Not Ray Bradbury.

Re:Meh (2, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 6 years ago | (#24730391)

Your Heinlein paperbacks are sticky, aren't they?

Re:Meh (3, Interesting)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 6 years ago | (#24730557)

"Your Heinlein paperbacks are sticky, aren't they?"

While Heinlein does tend to be "Ayn Rand in Spaaaaaace!" at least it actually feels like space! Stranger in a Strange Land had flying cars and bounce tubes and stuff. The Martian Chronicles took place on Mars for no other reason than because the author says so.

Jules Verne figured out that Floridian latitudes were convenient, and yet "Rocket Summer" took place in Ohio? And for how many centuries did we know that the surface of Earth was mostly water, and yet he consistently describes Earth as a green dot in the Martian sky? These are things that anybody living after 1750 or so with a globe on their desk could deduce (and they often did), but Bradbury couldn't be bothered to exercise his supposedly vast imagination even that much? Even if it helped immerse the reader just a little bit? No, such things would get in the way of The Point. Instead of creating an imaginative world that was "the same, but different" where he could explore ideas, he created a world that was "the same, only they say they're on Mars."

Agree or disagree with Heinlein, the man could write a good story. Agree or disagree with Ellison, the man could write a good story. Ray Bradbury cannot write.

Re:Meh (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | about 6 years ago | (#24730777)

Your Heinlein paperbacks are sticky, aren't they?

Some people have time enough for love.

Re:Meh (1)

Xupa (1313669) | about 6 years ago | (#24730399)

...and yet, here he is. Sharing his vivid insight with his Friends.

Re:Meh (3, Interesting)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24730427)

H. G. Wells? Who's stories could be boiled down to thinly veiled allegory for england at the time: a superior power invading what was though the premier power with nightmarish force saying 'Mars, bitches!', and a man venturing to different lands where there happens to be a society that resembles what his is like at the extremes in 'teh future!'. Very few sci-fi writers actually write fiction based on science. More tend to be allegory's of the modern society set against different backdrops. You may not like Bradbury's stories but attacking them on their merit as qualifying as "sci-fi" is probably the worst place for you to pick your battle

Re:Meh (2, Interesting)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 6 years ago | (#24731169)

"a superior power invading what was though the premier power with nightmarish force saying 'Mars, bitches!', and a man venturing to different lands where there happens to be a society that resembles what his is like at the extremes in 'teh future!'."

But the key here is that Wells actually worked on the metaphor. Good science fiction tends to be stories of "Let's take contemporary society (or some other meme), but dial up Aspect X a few orders of magnitude and explore what happens." Most of Bradbury's work starts with "Let's take contemporary society," and that's as far as he ever gets.

One of the more damning criticisms of science fiction as a genre, all the more damning because it's often true, is that many science fiction authors write science fiction because the standards are so much lower than for other forms of fiction or literature. For every genuinely good book in the genre, there are fifty that wouldn't even get shelf space in the trashy romance section.

Other than the very end, where Earth is destroyed in a fashion that more resembles Alderaan than Hiroshima, Martian Chronicles could just as easily have been written about a previously undiscovered island in the South Pacific somewhere, followed by its subsequent colonization and subjugation of its peoples (you know, what Bradbury was trying so God damned hard to write about). But "Polynesian Chronicles," named and written as such, sitting in some other part of the bookstore, wouldn't have sold enough to merit a second printing. Put "Mars" on the cover, and there's a chance that preteen boys of the day will buy your (supposedly) Mars-themed book rather than a Mars-themed trading cards, Mars-themed comic book, or Mars-themed horror movie ticket that week.

The government wants to keep you stupid, people never change, and atoms are bad, mmmkay?

Re:Meh (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | about 6 years ago | (#24730581)

*Chuckles*

Not to be insulting - because I can't remember enough of Farenheit 451 to intelligently defend its worth - I just like your single-quoted summaries of those two books. Someday in the future, if F451's distopia prevails (or more likely, Idiocracy's), 'teh future!' and 'Mars, bitches!' might be labels on the bindings of Bradbury's work in an incredibly dusty library.

Re:Meh (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 6 years ago | (#24730739)

"Someday in the future, if F451's distopia prevails (or more likely, Idiocracy's), 'teh future!' and 'Mars, bitches!' might be labels on the bindings of Bradbury's work in an incredibly dusty library."

Except, even then, George Orwell managed to do a much better job with the theme of a deliberately illiterate state/society four years prior. Orwell thought up Minipax and Minitruth, while Bradbury had "He's called a 'fireman' because he starts fires! I'm so clever!"

(What do you call the guy who shovels the coal into the locomotive and generally tends the fire again?)

Re:Meh (1)

gardyloo (512791) | about 6 years ago | (#24730897)

What do you call the guy who shovels the coal into the locomotive and generally tends the fire again?

Mister Tibbs?

Re:Meh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731175)

a goddamn nigger? (Haha, beat you other AC trolls to it. Piss off you kikes! OOOh, I did it again!)

Re:Meh (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 6 years ago | (#24732291)

Don't mod down N word trolls in this thread!

Bradbury would not approve.

Mod them up.

Re:Meh (0, Flamebait)

VAXcat (674775) | about 6 years ago | (#24732057)

Guppy06 is right on. The pap that Bradbury wrote is the stuff that English teachers confuse with real science fiction

I remember when Ray Bradbury defended Bob Packwood (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730313)

Ray Bradbury was a good friend of senator Packwood, and when the senator's political career began to unravel amidst allegations of sexual abuse and harassment from his female staffers, Bradbury tried to defend him on an episode of politically incorrect. Among other things, he said something to the effect of "who hasn't slapped a girl on the butt?" and "I sexually harassed my wife until she married me."

A class act, that guy is.

Re:I remember when Ray Bradbury defended Bob Packw (3, Insightful)

PoderOmega (677170) | about 6 years ago | (#24731039)

I couldn't find out when Ray Bradbury got married, but I would guess it was 40+ years ago. Believe or not there was a time where most did not even know the term sexual harrasment.

Re:I remember when Ray Bradbury defended Bob Packw (3, Informative)

Moop11 (1141137) | about 6 years ago | (#24732063)

Ray Bradbury was married in 1947. 60+ years! I had a chance to talk with his daughter about 5 yrs ago and she told me how old fashioned her parents were. They had been living in the same house for 40+ years and neither of them had ever learned to drive!

I 7hank you fo8 your time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730319)

GO FIND SOMETHING

Middle School Sci-Fi (3, Insightful)

buddhaunderthetree (318870) | about 6 years ago | (#24730387)

By some chance both All Summer in a Day and Sound of Thunder were in my 7th grade lit book, better than the crap my kids are assigned to read.

Re:Middle School Sci-Fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731261)

I have taught junior high (sorry, middle school) for 15 years. "All Summer in a Day," "A Sound of Thunder" (parodied by the Simpsons in "Time and Punishment"), "The Other Foot" (sorta a sequel to "Way in the Middle of the Air" in MC), AND the Martian Chronicles (at least most of it - I skip Usher2- why Mars?) are all in my curriculum. In fact "All Summer in a Day" is used as part of the district language arts assessments.

Ray himself has said MC isn't sci-fi. The only actual sci-fi story is the "There Will Come Soft Rains." I teach MC as a story of a clash of cultures. The science is inconsistent, and not really science most of the time, but you should see the discussions my seventh graders have about "The Earth Men."

Re:Middle School Sci-Fi (2, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 6 years ago | (#24732499)

Although I read (and enjoyed) most of Bradbury's work, I never considered him a mainstream science fiction writer. His very best work was horror, of the type that involved the suggestion of hot, pressured humid days before a storm, a lightning rod salesman, and the implied certainty of damnation from the combination. He's a prose writer with the soul of a poet.

I see SF as a story where the world, and behaviour, has changed as a result of some technical progress, whether or not that technology is explained. Bradbury, to his credit, did have the world changed because of technology, and didn't explain it at all -- just the effect. This was not Doc Smith's footnotes on corpuscular drive and space suits of phenoline and bakelite. Both had their place.

All Summer In A Day (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | about 6 years ago | (#24730407)

Now there's a simple, powerful, and disturbing story. I read it when I was in my early teens, and have never forgotten it.

For a (so-called) science fiction writer, Bradbury was an unabashed romantic of the American school. He goes right along Steinbeck in my view.

Where, oh where... (1)

kclittle (625128) | about 6 years ago | (#24730455)

... is this man's Nobel Prize for Literature? I'm completely serious.

Re:Where, oh where... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24730459)

He's in the process of sexually harassing the Nobel Prize committee until they give it to him.

He must have been very famous (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 years ago | (#24730465)

because I have never heard of him and I read lots of science fiction...

Re:He must have been very famous (1)

Xupa (1313669) | about 6 years ago | (#24730511)

so which part of your post isn't true?

Re:He must have been very famous (1)

dbolger (161340) | about 6 years ago | (#24730625)

If you're reading lots of science fiction and you have never read anything by Ray Bradbury then you are reading lots of the wrong science fiction.

Are you by any chance reading the greats of modern sci-fi in inverse alphabetical order, by author's surname?

Bradbury and Bukowski in the same graduating class (3, Informative)

whuddafugger (942622) | about 6 years ago | (#24730485)

It seems Bradbury and Bukowski were in the same graduating class. According to their respective Wikipedia entries, both were born in 1920, and both graduated from Los Angeles High School.

Interesting bit of trivia if true...

-- anthony

2 degrees of Seperation... (1)

B5_geek (638928) | about 6 years ago | (#24730523)

Years ago I hung out a lot in an IRC Channel with one of his nephews.

I always thought 451 was over-rated, my school taught it along-side 1984 and Lost Paradise. I do however enjoy several of his other books.

Greatest SciFi Writer of Our Age. Period. (3, Interesting)

teknopurge (199509) | about 6 years ago | (#24730545)

I contend that Bradbury is the single greatest science fiction writer of our age. Period. What he did - his vision - and when he did it was truly remarkable.

I still remember reading the Martian Chronicles and the Illustrated Man. For a kid that didn't like to read for fun it says a lot about books that kept me up 3 nights straight to find out how things ended.

Re:Greatest SciFi Writer of Our Age. Period. (1)

buddhaunderthetree (318870) | about 6 years ago | (#24730865)

Asimov may be better at the science part of scifi, but Bradbury is definitely the better writer.

Re:Greatest SciFi Writer of Our Age. Period. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731947)

actually, he's shit. hope he dies soon from some painful cancer of the eyes and cock

When I was fifteen,... (3, Informative)

walter_f (889353) | about 6 years ago | (#24730655)

I liked Bradbury a lot. And Heinlein. And E.E. Smith.

A few years later, Farmer and Stapledon.

At the age of 25, I discovered two very witty and humourous authors, namely Robert Sheckley
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Sheckley [wikipedia.org]

and R.A. Lafferty
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._A._Lafferty [wikipedia.org]

Not to forget Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, the Strugatskijs.

And of course, the British Authors: Douglas Adams, and Clarke, Moorcock, Brunner, Ballard, Aldiss,...

Among them, the great but not well-known David I. Masson ("The Caltraps of Time")
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_I._Masson [wikipedia.org]

Somebody just tell me to stop?
Thanks. ;-)

It's perhaps not so science-fictiony... (3, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | about 6 years ago | (#24730719)

... but "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is one of my favorite, most enjoyed influences in terms of writing style and pure entertainment. I've read many of his other stories (and I agree with some that "Fahrenheit 451" isn't one of his better works, though it's undeniably important), and enjoyed them all.
      However---and perhaps it's the time in my life that I read it---for pure *joy* at the written word and how he wields them, "SWTWC" is probably in the top five works which has most affected me (and this post is no, nor is it meant to be, reflection of Ray's abilities).

Re:It's perhaps not so science-fictiony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731481)

...Golden Apples of the Sun, Dandelion Wine...

Bradbury's books evoked a dream-like state in me that I have never found in another author. He uses an over-descriptive style which in the hands of a lesser writer would be too much but Bradbury always seems to get it right. I wish I could write so beautifully.

Categorize it as fantasy without the damned elves. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | about 6 years ago | (#24731587)

Something Wicked This Way Comes is nothing short of brilliant. I must have read it half a dozen times. I never saw the movie; I didn't want it to ruin it for me.

"This letter that I am carving into the bullet is not a letter. It is my smile."

Golden age of science fiction (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 6 years ago | (#24730729)

Bradbury is one of the influential authors from the golden age of science fiction. This was a cool time when people were buying books and magazines and a writer could make a good living writing. Lok at the intro to Fahrenheit 451. He needed to sell a story, so he went to the library, put coins in a typewriter, and wrote. It was amazing.

What makes these guys cool is that they could have probably just gotten away with writing crap, like so many authors do today, or they could have tried to prove they were smarter than everyone else by writing 'literature'. But they didn't. They wrote stuff that socially relevant and accessible to the people. As a result we have a good history or the social views of technology and cultural issues of the time. As they die we are losing first hand history from people who made living by objectively observing it and then writing it down in entertaining form.

So all these kids that think this is not relevant, well that because we know watch tv instead of read. No one becomes a scientist because of pulp fiction. Now everyone watches TV. Which is no so good because the bandwidth of TV is nowhere near as wide as the bandwidth of pulp fiction, so the vision and opinions tend to be limited and sanitized to what will attract sufficient viewers to pay the 200K it would take to develop a script, instead of the 20K it would take to buy a story. Of course, everyone now wants to be a millionaire overnight, so likely would think it was too much to develop a story and only get 20K.

The legacy of books that these guys left us is awesome. It is techy writing, unabashedly, unapologetically, and willingly. I will take this time to thank bradbury for the writing, be it science fiction, fantasy, or just fiction.

I saw him speak (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 6 years ago | (#24730825)

In 1993, he was the keynote speaker at the Ingres convention in San Jose. Awesome speaker - I still remember the theme of his speech - science fiction to science reality. Very inspiring.

He's the giant... (2, Insightful)

Kid Zero (4866) | about 6 years ago | (#24730929)

Modern SF Writers all stand on his shoulders when they write.

Tro7l (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731129)

the rain..we can be are a pathetic To fight what has standards should For the state of that he documents Spot when done For grandstanders, the charnel house. The People's faces is Move any equipment [nero-online.org]. Whether you officers. Others you to join the are 7000 users it simple, I see the same work that you to any BSD project, the chhosing of FreeBSD Usenet (7000+1400+700)*4 the next round of GAY NIGGERS from are about 7000/5 support GNAA, So that you don't from within. leaving the play words, don't get obsessed - give

The Coda (4, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#24731497)

Fahrenheit 451 itself was censored in exactly the method we wrote about for years, and he didn't know it. When he later discovered it, he wrote this new piece to go in the end of the book. Everyone should read it.

http://members.iquest.net/~jswartz/jks/humor/451.htm [iquest.net]

Re:The Coda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24731775)

mod up

Nobody -- NOBODY -- does paranoia better. (2, Informative)

EWAdams (953502) | about 6 years ago | (#24731623)

"The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl." He makes it sound so reasonable.

Happy birthday! (and thank you...) (2, Insightful)

Stanislav_J (947290) | about 6 years ago | (#24731631)

I fondly recall that Fahrenheit 451 (along with Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm) was one of the first really serious "adult" (in the non-porno sense) books I read, when I was all of maybe 11? 12? The visions and dark allegories of all three books, combined with the events of the late 60's (and Watergate, soon to follow), which made me realize that the Real World (TM) was not at all like what my History and Civics textbooks portrayed, helped to turn that impressionable, too-smart-for-his-own-good adolescent into the bitter, paranoid, mistrusting, cynical middle-aged grunt I have become. For all the ulcers, the insomnia, the times I beat my head against the wall in frustration at the direction of government and society, and the accumulated hair I tore out of my head along the way.....I thank you.

Ray Bradbury Loves Bush.... (3, Interesting)

TomHandy (578620) | about 6 years ago | (#24731799)

http://www.spaceagecity.com/bradbury/quotes.htm [spaceagecity.com]

POLITICS:
[George W. Bush is] wonderful. We needed him. Clinton is a s***head and we're glad to be rid of him. And I'm not talking about his sexual exploits. I think we have a chance to do something about education.... It doesn't matter who does it -- Democrats or Republicans -- but it's long overdue. (Salon.com, August 29, 2001)

The great thing is our counter-revolution that occurred in the polls a few weeks ago. I think it's great. All the Democrats are out and the Republicans are going to have a chance in a couple of years. It doesn't make a difference what party you belong to--it's a chance for a fresh start. It's very exciting. (Speaking about the "Republican Revolution" of 1994)

Oh yeah, and he says that Fahrenheit 451 isn't really about censorship or oppressive governments:

http://www.laweekly.com/2007-05-31/news/ray-bradbury-fahrenheit-451-misinterpreted/2 [laweekly.com]

Re:Ray Bradbury Loves Bush.... (1)

TomHandy (578620) | about 6 years ago | (#24731827)

You can see him here too: http://www.raybradbury.com/at_home_clips.html [raybradbury.com] According to him we've never had censorship or book burnings in the US either.... and he doesn't consider books being banned from libraries (including his own) to be censorship. Yet at the same time he says Fahrenheit 451 is about how TV is replacing literature and making people morons.

"Rocket Summer" (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 6 years ago | (#24731913)

A silly little short squib of a thing, part of The Martian Chronicles, yet it has stuck in my mind for over fifty years.

That and The Sound of Thunder--the time travelling tourist steps on a butterfly--but everyone knows that one, of course... ...and the one about the automated house that keeps running, serving meals and scraping the uneaten meals into the dishwasher, reading the housewife her favorite poem (by Sara Teasdale), and so forth, apparently unaware that the family has been vaporized by an atomic bomb, with silhouettes of what they were doing burned into the paint on the outside of the house.

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