I must have been about 15 or 16, in high school and always reading something – aside from not being in school anymore and being way cooler, things haven’t changed much. Anyway, I was about 15 or 16 and I read this amazing book that horrified me, chilled me and got me thinking about the future all at the same time. Not many books have really got me thinking about the future. The one I am reading at the moment is about the past, so that’s what I’ve been focussing on, and wishing that I lived then instead of now. But this book about the future, reached right into my core, grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I have not read it since then as I found it quite distressing, but it has never left my mind.
This morning I was reading the news online and squeezed in next the the thrilling news that Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are engaged, was the sad news that the author of one of my favourite books ever – which I have only read once – had passed away. Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451 (amongst many other brilliant pieces of work) has left us, after a very long time on this earth. If you’ve not read Fahrenheit 451, I would recommend that you do so. You are missing out on something very special if you don’t. I may have only read it once, but it has really stuck with me and is such an accurate foretelling of the future, that the more that I think about it, I wonder if Bradbury had not come from the future.
Written in the early 1950’s, Fahrenheit 451 is the ultimate dystopian novel. Things are very much as they are now, as you sit here reading this. There is however, one major difference. Books are outlawed. Firemen are no longer employed to put out fires, they are there to burn the books. I think it is the destuction of the books that distressed me the most. My books are amongst my most treasured possessions – they always have been. I have always found it amazing that someone could make a masterpiece out of words and in doing so, give us a way to escape every day life. I don’t know what I would do if I woke up tomorrow morning and not be able to read. I would have to started listening to audio books I guess.
But along with the destruction of the written word, the society portrayed in the novel is what makes it so intriguing. People don’t talk to each other anymore. They are constantly listening to advertisements and the like on portable listening devices called “Seashells” – sound familiar? I imagine myself sitting on the train in the morning with my iPod on to drown out the sounds of my fellow commuters – we really are a detached society, afraid of conversation with strangers. We don’t know how to communicate anymore – I know that I am very awkward in conversations, I always have been I guess, but I notice it more these days with the creation of Facebook and other social media. I mean the whole reason I started my blog was to tell people what I was feeling, without having to say a word. We have become the society that Bradbury predicted 60 years ago and with the invention of the tablet and e-reader, books are slowly on the way out which is very sad.
So to Ray Bradbury, thank you for your amazing work and showing us what we would one day become. While we may not have avoided becoming something akin to zombies, hopefully we will learn from everything else that you dreamt up and not let those beautiful works made of paper and ink, go the way of the dinosaurs.