Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Book Burners

In the paperback I have of The Wizard of Oz, Ray Bradbury wrote an introduction in which he shares his views and love of Baum's series. He contrasts it with Carroll' Wonderland novels and shows a clear preference for Oz. Aside from that, he made one point that stood out: Ignoring a book is like burning it. This is a reference to his work. In his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, characters physically burn books.

That novel showed me that there was another way to do genre fiction. To say Fahrenheit 451 is not science fiction is a crime. The man wrote science fiction; there is no shame in that. Of course, science fiction has a tradition of being socially conscious, especially as it pertains to technology.

It saddened me to hear he died. I had hoped to meet him--a boyish dream--and tell him how much his work influenced my own. I don't think I would have included half of what's in my novel if not for his work.

So, who are the book burners I reference in the title of this post? We're all book burners at some point. There is no need to demonize a group. Whenever you decide to Facebook instead of reading, you burn a book. Whenever you pick up a joystick and rev up that videogame, you burn a book. Etc.

But this is not an irreparable condition. Ironically, the technology Bradbury was so suspicious of is the reason why a new generation of readers have discovered his books.

I honor the word weaver, Ray Bradbury, and his unique fictions. His work opened the door for others like myself.