SciFi has an interview with one of my all-time favourite authors and one of the truly great writers (SF or otherwise) of the last century, Ray Bradbury. Ray has a new book coming up from Gauntlet, “Match to Flame: the Fictional Paths To Fahrenheit 451” which explores some of the related themes which occurred in much earlier stories which seem, with that great invention, hindsight, to have been paving the way – unconsciously – to one of the most famous and important novels of the 20th century. No that isn’t hyperbole by a gushing fanboy, that’s my opinion as a professional bookseller and lifelong reader (and also gushing fanboy).
Fahrenheit 451 continues to be a powerful and relevant work to this day; just a few months ago a ‘concerned parent’ tried to have it banned from a school in America, just as the US libraries were celebrating banned book week. Of course, said parent hadn’t actually read the book he objected to his child reading for school, so the irony of trying to ban a book which is about the control of literature – and therefore thought – was lost on this rather ignorant person. With each year yielding more demands from the ignorant to ban – sometimes to burn – books and graphic novels they have not read of but disapprove of – Harry Potter, Fun Home, Fahrenheit 451 itself – it remains a book that any person with a decent book collection must have on their shelves, and indeed most of Ray’s vast output is recommended – if you haven’t tackled his work before why not try the short story collection The Illustrated Man (the first Bradbury I ever read at the tender age of eleven), which lets you acclimatise in short chunks. Then read Fahrenheit 451.