Ray Bradbury: Master Of Science Fiction
Ray Bradbury, the master of science fiction -- and yet the one who feared it the most, passed away at age 91 on June 6. Bradbury weaved intricate and fascinating stories around censorship and oppression, dropping none-too-subtle hints about the pitfalls of technology. In his illustrious literary career, he wrote more than 600 short stories and 30 books.
The man who claimed “he will write till 99” is no more, but his dark, poignant works live on.
Life of Bradbury
Born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1920, Bradbury's early childhood was shaped by family members who nurtured his love for books. After a chance encounter with Mr. Electrico, a carnival entertainer at age 11, Bradbury wanted to be a magician. But as luck would have it, a typewriter arrived at his doorstep and he discovered the world of writing.
Unfortunately for Bradbury, his parents could not pay for college, and he made a living selling newspapers on the street. Libraries became his refuge, where he immersed himself in the works of Jules Verne, H.G Wells, Edgar Allen Poe, and the delightful Buck Rogers and Tarzan comic strips. Soon he started submitting some of his works to newspapers, earning about $25 for each piece.
Bradbury got his first break in 1950 with the Martian Chronicles, a story about man's attempt to colonize Mars and its effect on the simple Martians. However, his most famous and arguably his best book was Fahrenheit 451 -- the temperature at which paper burns, where firemen light fires instead of putting them out. It’s books that burn! Bradbury received many prestigious awards for his literary achievements.
Technology: A boon or bane?
Bradbury's love-hate relationship with technology was best exemplified by Fahrenheit 451. Here he shows society as oppressed and dumbed down, where people are hooked to TV shows, are constantly plugged in, and have no idea what’s happening in the real world.
Bradbury’s eerie predictions of the future bear striking resemblance to the world of our own. They included the headphones (he even coined the term “earbuds”) and big flat-screen TV’s which burst with color and overwhelmed the viewers. He thought up ATM’s, Artificial Intelligence, live media coverage, and electronic surveillance. He even predicted people talking to their friends through a digital wall. Sound familiar? That’s right. Facebook.
Wary of the dangers that new technology posed, Bradbury was always a skeptic who never really accepted the benefits of the new. Until his end, Bradbury supported public libraries and shunned e-books, urging readers to enjoy the pleasures of ink and paper! A powerful speaker, his words have inspired thousands around the globe. His mantra of “Do what you love – And love what you do.” best exemplifies his life.