Skip to comments.Ray Bradbury: Enemy of the State
Posted on 06/10/2012 6:46:11 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued
Libertarians can easily see one of their own in the non-comformist nonagenarian, who, despite moving to Los Angeles in the 1930s, never bothered to learn how to drive. A consummate autodidact, he also never went to college. And good thing too! He hated affirmative action, condemned all this political correctness thats rampant on campuses, and called for an immediate ban of quotas in higher education. The whole concept of higher education is negated, he told Playboy in 1996, unless the sole criterion used to determine if students qualify is the grades they score on standardized tests.
But Bradburys antipathy to formal education went deeper than passing controversies. He knew that educators, like politicians, are the natural enemies of dreamers. Science fiction acknowledges that we dont want to be lectured at, just shown enough so we can look it up ourselves, he continued in that Playboy interview. His can-do optimism recalled the small Illinois town his family left, ultimately finding its place in his fiction even if it was set on distant worlds, which he longed to explore and colonize. For Bradbury, it was the politicians who have no romance in their hearts or dreams in their heads that ultimately kept America earthbound. And Bradbury, who grew up on the romantic fiction of Hugo, had romance and love to share, penning some 27 novels and 600 short stories.
He didnt hate all politicians, though. He called Ronald Reagan the greatest president and received the National Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. He reserved his greatest criticisms for Bill Clinton, whom he dismissed as a shithead, and for Barack Obama, who ended NASAs manned space flight program. That was one government program Bradbury did like. He believed it was the key to humanity become a multi-planetary species.
(Excerpt) Read more at reason.com ...
Ray Bradbury was something of a Libertarian, which many science fiction fans are. He was also an ardent critic of the public schools and had been as far back as the 1950’s.
Did not see those facts in the obituaries!
I met him once; it was interesting to meet someone who had not been on the reservation for years - it was an odd experience to meet an authority who had no respect for authority. I don’t think that I appreciated his writing until I was older - I was more of an Asimov/Clarke fan. OTOH, he didn’t consider himself to even be in the same “business” as Asimov and Clarke.
When I was a teen, I read every book of his I could get my hands on. My mother was a reading specialist, so reading was big in our family. “Fahrenheit 451” was one of the most gripping books I first read. I was insatiable for his work after that. I never considered myself a fan of science fiction, but I loved his writing.
Many students who finish school learn to hate books and reading and never read unless they have to as adults. That’s because the books and lessons they get from school are so intensely dull. I’ve met people who associate books with pain.
“Ive met people who associate books with pain.”
That’s very sad. Our family vacations were spent reading on the beach. The first book I stayed up all night reading was Thomas Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowed.” Of course I also ended up doing more chores because my older sister was busy reading something and I wasn’t. I had a book confiscated by my fifth grade teacher who thought it was “too mature” for me, but then my sisters and I also hid “Fear of Flying” from my mom. My daughter turned out to be a highly gifted writer. He college fiction prof. said she wrote the only piece of science fiction he ever liked. I read it and immediately thought “Bradbury.” What a blessing.
SILAS MARNER by George Eliot. One of the WORST novels I was ever forced to read in high school.
Luckily I had an ADULT library card to the Carlsbad NM public library and survived on books about pirates, lost treasure, science fiction, Beau Geste trilogy, Beat to Quarters trilogy, and other adventure books too numerous to mention. Even the works of HOMER were a breeze compared to the drudge of reading Silas Marner. The library kept me sane in a troubling part of my life.
“SILAS MARNER by George Eliot. One of the WORST novels I was ever forced to read in high school.”
I read it on my own in junior high. One of the first books I read that I got to the end of and thought it was awful and a waste of time, wondering how it got to be a classic. There are much better cautionary tales about adultery.
I plowed through loads of early sci-fi like "Rossum's Universal Robots," Huxley's "Brave New World," Orwell's "1984" and other writings, then got hooked on historical and political stuff, especially books about Communism like Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon." That book, along with Orwell's works, left me with a lifelong hatred of all forms of totalitarianism and a sharp appreciation of the freedoms that we...then...enjoyed in America.
I just want to proclaim a public heartfelt THANKS to philanthropist Carnegie for the 2,509 libraries he endowed around the world. I've managed to live a positive and productive life largely as a result of the books I read in that little library situated in a far-flung part of the U.S. It is a great blessing such wise men exist.
I completely agree.
The love of reading, sometimes passed on to us by our parents or discovered for ourselves, is the greatest gift. Reading can occupy our minds when perhaps our life’s experiences are too painful.
Books are like precious stepping stones of knowledge in life. One book/subject leads to another and another. Each one along the way educates us in its own way, fires the imagination and lifts the spirits. There is a infinite world out there, past and present, that can be explored through reading.
When someone years ago asked me what were my hobbies, what did I do in my spare time, I replied, “I love to read”. I got the oddest look back as if I had just arrived from Mars!
However, I know that those of us who love books understand why reading is so important.
Several elements about his writing as science fiction impressed me. The first was his rejection of the “happy ending” in which all the loose ends were at least intellectually tied up. Instead he preferred the characters to live on at the end of the story, leaving the reader with a “and then what happened?” feeling.
And often it is not the characters left alive, but the situation, such as the automatic house in the short story, There Will Come Soft Rains; or the equivalent of a murderous ‘holodeck’ in The Veldt.
An unfinished story he was commissioned to complete for a publisher when its writer died, was a more conventional science fiction tale of a future war between the US and China, fought with giant, high speed underground tunneling battleships.
He took that conventional story and added a twist to it by having almost the entire crew of the tunneling ship die from a rapidly killing biological warfare disease. The sole survivor had been a minor character, most noteworthy in being an intensive chain smoker.
He was spared because his body had subtly mutated, so that for him, nicotine was an essential nutrient, and stored in such quantity in his body, it made him toxic to most pathogens. A novel conclusion to the story.
There have been precious few good ones, since. Just Clarke left now, I believe. A damned shame.
If it does not look right or sound right, it is not right.
I am exactly the same way. I was a military brat, and moved around a lot. I cannot diagram a sentence.
But people ask me to proofread their work.
I can write without a spell or grammar check aid, and I can simply tell when a sentence is or isn’t correct. Of course, I do have a copy of the “Elements of Style” and the Internet for those times I just cannot tell...:)
Yes, and books are the one medium that cannot be deleted or altered with the push of a button.
Books have a unique integrity that will never exist in digital media..
I lost my copy of Elements of Style, but my daughter has one. I was shocked when my mother criticized me a few years ago for my “excessive” use of punctuation. She didn’t have my 4th grade or 8th grade teachers, and good grief, I could diagram a sentence like a pro. It doesn’t matter though, because if one reads, they learn, unless they’re reading contemporary journalists. My daughter caught flack for “affecting” in a college English course and had to explain she grew up in New Zealand, where she learned to read and write. She tends to add extra vowels to words, and learned “chair” and “cheer” are homonyms.
Sorry, no. Arthur C. Clarke cashed in his chips in 2008. I’m hard pressed to think of anyone from that 1930s-1940s generation who’s still alive and writing now.
Bradbury also gave advice in the early 1990s at a lecture I attended. He said turn off the nightly news. There wasn’t much there anyway and the local news is largely car accidents, warehouse fires, sports drama, and weather.
Most people turn to it as a force of habit but they aren’t necessarily being informed as they are being misinformed and fed a steady diet of chaos. Witness the “rash” of stories of cannibalism these days whereas normally they wouldn’t be national news items.
Clarke seemed more cynical and perverted. From some of his writing he seemed to hold religion in contempt.
Asimov was also an atheist but he was more tolerant of those who’d pray for his health.
Bradbury spoke on faith at times.
Harlan Ellison is still kicking.
"Kicking" is what Harlan DOES.
Arthur C. Clarke died in 2008.
Frederik Pohl and Jack Vance are about the only Golden Age writers left.
Still plenty ‘New Wave’ sci-fi authors from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, however, and in all fairness, many of them produced some very good stuff.
One writer said there were two flaws in the Golden Age. The first being that writers were paid for volume, not content, often from a nickel to a quarter a word, flat fee; and that content was often just “invent a gizmo and build a plot out of that”, with two dimensional characters.
The New Wave was so popular among writers because it was less about gizmos and more about sociology and cultural adaptation to futuristic change. This was because gizmos had become so common in the real world that they had lost much of their mystique, but in an odd way.
Alvin Toffler’s ‘Future Shock’ was a very accurate reflection of Clake’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”; except that “magic is magic”, it is all beyond reach, so there is no way to build it yourself in your garage. It is overwhelming to all but the expert.
So science fiction really had no choice but to move to cultural and sociological reaction to technology. However, this has its own failings, because sociology is a study, not a science, and the cultural breakthrough of one person is laughably juvenile to another. For example the downright silly plot-lines of some of the Star Trek TOS episodes.
Another problem is self indulgence. For example the later writings of some of the Golden Age writers during the New Wave period are just cringe worthy, such as Asimov’s ‘The Gods Themselves’, and Heinlein’s ‘The Number of the Beast’.
(To his credit, Asimov recovered and went back to writing sequels of his Golden Age masterpiece Foundation Series, before his untimely death.)
It is no surprise that the New Wave burned itself out quickly, but since then science fiction has lost its genre labeling, mostly because the publishers were all absorbed into the giant media oligopolies.
Then it is appropriate that Kicks Books will be (re)-issuing two collections of early writings by Harlan Ellison.
A second volume, with a matching cover, is to be released later this year.
If not for greats like Bradbury and science fiction, this dyslexic — who was told he was “stupid” by his teachers — would never have learned to read.
It's amusing to read that sentence juxtaposed with your previous comment "[One flaw with the Golden Age was]... that writers were paid for volume, not content..."
Consider 'Golden Age' books from Asimov and Heinlein as compared to their later works. The earlier work was much more concise.
It was concise because that is why they survived. Most authors tried to crank out voluminous filler and the editors would slash and burn it, then pay them for what was left over.
This was one of the reasons suggested why L. Ron Hubbard got into the religion business, because he couldn’t cut both quality and volume in his writing. It was just too much work.
“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster. “ - Asimov
Martian Chronicles was my first SciFi book back in the fifties. I was hooked and mostly a SciFi reader for many years after that. I had not read any for the last 20 years until I recently picked up some John Scalzi.
“The New Wave was so popular among writers because it was less about gizmos and more about sociology and cultural adaptation to futuristic change”
And that’s why it’s crap. Hard SF is far better.
Ben Bova’s still around too.