I have been discussing with my class on how Bradbury was prophetic for his time. I had a question on this though. Was he really a prophetic author that wanted to predict the future or did he just take reoccuring ideas and put them into a sci-fi book that we would read today and think wait thats happening now? I think that his ideas are good and im not knocking the book but I dont think Bradbury should get the credit he is receiving that he is being called a prophet of the past. I would like to comment that if i wrote a book about what is happening today with the war in Iraq and our whole political spectrum and basic everday quarrels, mixed them up and through them into what i think the future would be/become i would be known as a prophet of the times.
We were disgusing this same topic in class a few days ago. I do think he had some insight but I would'nt go as far as calling him a prophet. Ya its pretty amazing that he thought of the walls being TVs. If you think about some guy could of elabrated on this idea and figured why not? It dosen't mean this guy really visioned it. I think he was writing a Sci-fi book and probably figured it could one day happen and it did.
Posts: 4 | Location: lemont il usa | Registered: 02 September 2004
Well, I think that Ray is prophetic in the sense that he was able to visualize the future and express it in words. No one is giving Ray the credit of an actual prophet. We are just recognizing that he was able to predict the advancement of technology and how we behave in society today. If you wrote a book about the war and mixed the facts up into what you think the future will be liek would not make you a prophet. The fact is that he predicted correctly, and he most likely put thought into what the world would be at least fifty years in the future. He did not just take facts and "mix them up".
First of all, we must never forget that Ray is first and foremost a storyteller. This is where his true talent lies. However, he did predict to a point the future. There are societies that are as oppressive as the one in 451, but I believe the book is a warning of the power of oppression and he takes it to a far exaggeration to illustrate a point.
I agree with chocolatecupcake. Of course, there have always been opressive societies, both by opressive governments, and by "tyranny of the majority". I think 451 is more social commentary than prediction of the future, but he did nail the whole HDTV thing, didn't he?
Posts: 397 | Location: Azusa, CA | Registered: 11 February 2003
Yes, also Reality TV. Television isn't just a medium for entertainment, but for public services, such as hunting fugitives wanted for whatever reason. Look at "America's Most Wanted." By the way, I loved "Unsolved Mysteries." I really wish they would bring that back. Now that Robert Stack is gone, they could get the great Dean Stockwell to host it!
Posts: 2694 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001
In reading F451 in a Soph. lit. class last week, a students raised his hand and commented on the data device clicking away information in the corner while Beatty is playing cards with the firemen. The machine is spitting out current info on the next burning to occur and the location of the event: "a fax machine!"
A similar visionary moment is is The Other Foot when the man goes back into his rocket and returns with down loaded pictures of so many locations and scenes of the towns long destroyed and left behind.
And that story where a guy is driven nuts by his wrist watch communication device and starts pouring chocolate syrup into airco units and other machines . . . Surely a prediction of the joys of the cell phone?
I need to post this where the younger members will read it; this site seems to be one such place.
Bradbury was just one writer in the much broader field of SF. His ideas about technology and devices are occasionally his own but more often just part of the interchange and culture, the SF 'soup'. Ideas about social trends were also circulated, compared, built on.
Focusing on him as a "prophet" is misleading. The more technically minded writers created the basic hardware. The early 'greats' created the stock plot devices. The trip to another world; the 'invasion'; the time machine; the skewed dystopia. Ray was famously inept at science & technology. He was great at vision of a particularly appealing sort --- summer, melancholy, poetic magic. Every reader felt him to be a special friend.
The kids seem to be particularly impressed by the full-wall TV's. This accurately models, for them, the increasing role TV has taken in people's lives, crowding out other forms of interaction. In this case perhaps we can call him prophetic. In other cases he is quite jejune. Lest I step on any member's toes by 'dissing' a particularly treasured story, I will mention none. Oh, go ahead. The 'hound' in F451 was to my young mind an impossibly cinematic envisioning. I felt technology would not develop along those lines, unless science was guided by drama for drama's sake, which it never is. But if you want to see a better-envisioned hound, read the novel 'Snow Crash'.
Anyway, I want to recommend the whole SF "soup" of the 1950's to starter readers: Frederick Pohl, C. M. Kornbluth, Poul Anderson, Alfred Bester, Theodore Sturgeon. (It happens two of my nephews are avidly reading that stuff right now.) Then you can talk more informedly about who is 'prophetic'.
Good luck, h.rousseau
Posts: 34 | Location: houston | Registered: 30 August 2004
I believe that Ray is primaryily a poet who has written about many different things, as mentioned above. His talent is to take the reader into worlds he may not have experienced and make him believe that he has become a part of that new world, whether on earth in a diffenent time, or on a different planet in a future time. He has proven to be a "Phophet" for having drawn in broad strokes, images of possible futures with outcomes that give us pause to consider the consequences of letting them become a reality.
While Ray was never a Hard Core technologist in his futurist writings, re: The Martian Chronicles, he nevertheless made the reader consider outcomes of our entering onto the red planet as visitors, explorers and settlers, much like the people who tamed the old west and experienced the presence of Native Americans. I did not "get" MC when I read it in my teens, as I was a science oriented person and "knew" that the description of the events in MC were not technically correct, even in the fifties. Reading it later in life, I can overlook the Hard Science and appreciate the poetry in the words and the passion in the humanity Ray describes in The Martian Chronicles.
He was every bit the Prophet for putting the reader into a future society where the individual has lost importance, lost the ability to choose and is required to fit into a programed dream world of intellectural barreness, where soap opera television involves the viewer in its bland storylines, and the mark of success is how many screens one has in the house. Ideas have ceased to be of use to the society and are now viewed as problems to be controlled and eliminated by burning the books that contain them. Since I grew up on the '50s I can appreciate the changes that have come about in technology since Fahrenheit 451 was written. All that Ray described is today a reality, the things in the ears that allowed people to communicate - read cell phones made even smaller than they are, and soon to be implanted rather than carried; the hound - odor-sensing robots exist today, DNA analysis can track anyone anywhere; controlled media, violence on TV that today stops just short of showing murder as it takes place, "Reality TV" much like Rome must have been in the days of the Colloseum. This was all put before the reader in Fahrenheit 451 before Sputnik was orbited by the Soviets and scared the living hell out of everyone, causing a renewed emphasis on math and science education to catch up. I would say Ray has been very phophetic in his visions of future events, but takes the reader into these possible worlds with the most poetic descriptions ever written and makes him feel that he has been there and then asks the reader "what are you going to do about it?" That is the sign of a real prophet.
[This message has been edited by patrask (edited 10-06-2004).]
Posts: 257 | Location: Laguna Hills, CA USA | Registered: 02 January 2002