Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something Bradbury This Way Comes

From Lunar Pioneer Album 3 -
Then-President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush present the National Medal of Arts award to Ray Bradbury in 2004 [White House photo by Susan Sterner].

Joel Raupe

It should be interesting to see if the number or the tone of many enthusiastic birthday greetings being posted for a surviving Dean of the Golden Age of Science Fiction now become more muted over coming days. Ray Bradbury, who celebrates his 90th birthday August 22, has taken the opportunity to tell reporters we need a revolution. Since there are few American writers who are better masters of metaphor, we can safely believe he was being metaphorical.

Like Robert Heinlein (or Orson Scott Card, for that matter), Bradbury is not a fan of massive paternal government. He's also not a fan of halting work on putting a permanent manned presence on the Moon, and beyond. But because some lack confidence politically, something else Bradbury said that would otherwise be just amusing may now be used instead to ruin celebrations of his birthday.

Some more dogged fans of his writing are also strong supporters of President Obama's proposed changes in national space policy. It's likely too many will now be too quick to pick up on a malapropism from Bradbury, more specifically his having said "we have too many Internets."

That would be regrettable, however passionate one might be about space policy (or the undoubted benefits of more ready access to the Moon).

It would be foolish to mock Bradbury's age, his lack of familiarity with iPhones, or his politics, and mistake his for a slipping mind not worth listening too. Bradbury is not some kind of latter-day Ezra Pound.

This very small part of Bradbury's recent remarks in Los Angeles has already become the story in pieces originally about his coming birthday. And there are bound to be unseasoned writers, some of whom rushed already to extend tributes to Bradbury, who might now think they are required to regret their Best Wishes, perhaps fearing they might otherwise appear politically incorrect.

But consider this: That among the Lunar Pioneer posters we continue to try to stick to pieces related, at least in some way, to Earth's Moon. We're only too happy to leave to others the job of keeping us up to date on the Known Universe. So, it might be Bradbury has a point.

He has a point to the extent that some online writers feel a vain compulsion to appear comprehensive, the need to add a monologue to the Echo Chamber, adding pressure to today's firehose of opinion. While many might say this results in too high a noise level, Bradbury might instead say there are 'too many Internets.'

And, after all, the Real Story is Bradbury's birthday, the anniversary of an authentic legacy enduring across four generations of grateful readers.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Ray Bradbury is mad at President Obama, but it’s not about the economy, the war or the plan to a construct a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

“He should be announcing that we should go back to the moon,” says the iconic author, whose 90th birthday on Aug. 22 will be marked in Los Angeles with more than week’s worth of Bradbury film and TV screenings, tributes and other events. “We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever.”

The man who wrote “Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “The Martian Chronicles,“ ”Dandelion Wine“and “The Illustrated Man” has been called one of America’s great dreamers, but his imagination takes him to some dark places when it comes to contemporary politics.

“I think our country is in need of a revolution,” Bradbury said. “There is too much government today. We’ve got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people and for the people.”

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