Science fiction is a genre of writing involving plots and themes related to future scientific advances and major social changes, often coming from the author’s imagination rather than from factual knowledge. With the advancement of Man’s knowledge resulting from the scientific revolution, fictional predictions about the future resulted in believable new works of science fiction.
Some authors pictured future technologies that would benefit mankind in some way or would let mankind explore new boundaries that had previously limited the human experience. One of these authors was Jules Verne whose imagination allowed him to pen ideas about electrical submarines and solar sails. However, other authors envisioned a bleak dystopian world in which mankind has lost many important objects, and sometimes intangible values as well. Three examples of dystopian fiction are Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s two novels, Animal Farm and 1984. Through these and other novels, science fiction authors have elevated the genre from popular fiction to serious literature. These authors fundamentally changed how people today judge science fiction literature.Ray Bradbury has continued to elevate the genre as an American science fiction writer. He was born on August 22, 1920, in Illinois.
“As a child, he was a huge fan of magicians, and a voracious reader of adventure and fantasy fiction, especially…Jules Verne” (“National Endowment for the Arts”). In 1934, Bradbury moved to Los Angeles, California, and published his first short story in 1938. “Bradbury sold his first professional piece, the story “Pendulum,” in November 1941, just a month before The United States entered World War II.
In 1950, Bradbury published his first major work, The Martian Chronicles, which details the conflict between humans colonizing the “red planet” and the native Martians they encountered there”(“Ray Bradbury”).Bradbury continued to write short stories and novels, the most famous of which is Fahrenheit 451. The novel was published in 1953, and “…came out to rapturous reviews. To this day it sells at least 50,000 copies a year” (“National Endowment for the Arts”). A 2005 interview with Bradbury revealed that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rental typewriter in the basement of UCLA’s library. “The house was very loud, it was very wonderful, but I had no money to rent an office. I was wandering around the UCLA library and discovered there was a typing room where you could rent a typewriter for ten cents a half-hour. So I went and got a bag of dimes” (“National Endowment for the Arts”).
He continued in the interview, “The novel began that day, and nine days later it was finished…I ran up and down stairs and grabbed books off the shelf to find any kind of quote and ran back down and put it in the novel. The book wrote itself in nine days because the library told me to do it” (“National Endowment for the Arts”). In the same interview, Bradbury explained where he got the idea about his novel’s theme -burning books. “Well, Hitler of course. When I was fifteen, he burnt the books in the streets of Berlin. Then along the way, I learned about the libraries in Alexandria burning five thousand years ago. That grieved my soul. Since I’m self-educated, that means my educators—the libraries—are in danger.
And if it could happen in Alexandria, if it could happen in Berlin, maybe it could happen somewhere up ahead, and my heroes would be killed” (“National Endowment for the Arts”).In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury creates a world where reading and owning books is unlawful, and dissenting new ideas are suppressed. The novel mainly focuses on the protagonist, Guy Montag, a fireman who does not put out fires but starts fires to burn books which are illegal in his society. The title further emphasizes the theme because Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper burns. Coming home from work one day, Montag meets a young girl named Clarisse McClellan. As a seventeen-year-old girl, Clarisse is energetic and curious. To others, she is labeled a “time bomb,” but she reveals a truth to Montag. This truth is that “thinking” is absent from his and everyone else’s life.
Then sometime later, Montag is called to burn Ms. Hudson’s books. He is perplexed that Ms. Hudson would prefer to die surrounded by her books than to live. Because of his conversations with Clarisse and this experience with Mrs. Hudson, Montag slowly begins to question the world in which he lives, and he starts to inquire why books are thought of as so dangerous.
He wonders why, with the evident danger, some people would still risk their lives just to read. “He seeks out the counsel of an old man named Faber, whom he once let off easy on a reading charge. Together they agree to copy a salvaged Bible, in case anything should happen to the original” (“National Endowment for the Arts”). He eventually seeks to break away from the society where he felts he is uncomfortable and does not belong anymore. So, he strikes out for the countryside to find the “book people” Montag has seized his fate for the first time. “There he finds a resistance force of readers, each one responsible for memorizing, and thereby preserving, the entire contents of a different book” (“National Endowment for the Arts”).
Works Cited”National Endowment for the Arts.” Fahrenheit 451 | NEA, www.arts.gov/partnerships/nea-big-read/fahrenheit-451.”Ray Bradbury.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 10 Nov.