This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
Long before “The Hunger Games” portrayed a grim, dystopian future and ignited the imaginations of young readers, there was Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
It came out in 1953, but it’s as timely today as it was then with its glimpse into a future society in which people are so mesmerized by their big-screen TVs that they no longer read. They’re unconcerned when firemen show up to burn books, which ignite at 451 degrees F.
Bradbury, who died Tuesday at age 91, was significant not only for his uncanny ability to foresee future trends but also for the accessibility of his writing.
For many youngsters, his “Martian Chronicles” collection of stories was their first foray into science fiction. It likely wouldn’t be their last. His darkly poetic “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is a classic fantasy story that influenced the likes of Stephen King (Bradbury himself was a literary descendant of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs). And “Fahrenheit 451” – the 2003 choice for the Tacoma Reads Together program – has long been a standard on school reading lists, its message about the dangers of conformity, anti-literacy and ceding rights in return for security striking a chord with generations of students. Read more »