Friday, June 9, 2017

"Far winds and whispers and soap opera cries"




"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."

Ray Bradbury, 1953

This week I've been listening to a survey of science fiction from Bradbury to Star Trek, and it's reminding me that I've only read his Fahrenheit 451, and that was in high school. I'm long overdue..

6 comments:

  1. Bradbury was a very talented and idiosyncratic writer; his style and approach were unique and occasionally surprising, both qualities that he cultivated, of course... among many other works, i remember the short story, "The Pedestrian"... about a man walking the streets of suburbia at night, watching the television lights in the front rooms of every house he passed; he ends up being arrested for alien conduct... impressive precognition, there...

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  2. Bradbury is one of my favorite short story writers, regardless of genre. Aside from "The Pedistrian," which is one of my favorites also, I would recommend the following short stories:

    "Kaleidoscope"
    --the first story that suggested to me the other side of space travel--the tragic


    "The Fog Horn"
    --one of the best descriptions of the sound of a fog horn

    "The Crowd"
    --when an accident happens, a crowd gathers, even though the street had been deserted a few minutes before--where do they all come from, and more important--why?

    "The Murderer"
    --an incredibly accurate prediction of life with a cell phone (I don't have one)

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  3. Fahrenheit 451 is long overdue on my reading list. I have a copy sitting in my 'yet to be cataloged' pile. I need to dig it out and read it at some point.

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  4. @Mudpuddle: What I've encountered in reading the Martian Chronicles the last couple of days has definitely whet my appetite for more Bradbury. Any man who imagines a house of horrors designed specifically to horrify and punish controlling bureaucrats has my attention..

    @Fred: Thank you for the leads! What is the best Bradbury story collection to start with? "The Illustrated Man"?

    @Cyberkitten: I read it and 1984 very near each other in high school for a school course. In retrospect it seems like something warm and fluffy should have been in the middle!

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    1. Stephen,

      A small excellent collection would be _The Vintage Bradbury_ which has several of the stories I mentioned.

      If you are looking for a larger collection, then I would recommend _The Stories of Ray Bradbury_ which has 99 stories. My copy is a hardbound, and I don't know if a pb version is available.

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  5. F451 is one of my all time favorite books. Your fine posting has me eager to revisit the nightmare.

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