Finished: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is one of those books I thought I’d read. I’m a Sci-Fi fan,
and ate up a lot of the “masters” of Sci-Fi years ago. I started with Arthur C.
Clarke (Childhood’s End was
my first Sci-Fi read, what a way to start!), and quickly ran through most of
the works of Heinlein, Asimov, and others, including, I thought, Ray
Bradbury.

Apparently not.

My only thought is that perhaps I got sidetracked by the weirdness that is
Something Wicked
This Way Comes
, and set Mr. Bradbury aside.

Fast forward some [mumble] years, and I find a reference to
Fahrenheit
451
in the always popular and thought provoking This Is True weekly email.

So I picked up a copy from Amazon.

What’s utterly amazing about this book is how true it has become.

No, people aren’t burning books – well, at least not often – but so many of
the concepts that Bradbury wrote about back in the 1940’s are
commonplace today.

Two that struck me the strongest include:

  • a startlingly accurate description of what we now call “political
    correctness”.

  • a populace so vapid that they spend most of their time watching what we
    would only describe as “reality TV” today, (on wall-sized big screen TV’s, no
    less) which in turn becomes the major topic of conversation on those occasions
    when people do actually get together.

As with any Sci-Fi of 50+ years ago, there are bound to be both hits and
misses. The technological misses, though, are surprisingly few. The hits and
the “could be” hits are a credit to his foresight.

Ultimately, the book ends with the apparent start (and possible conclusion?) of a
nuclear war – which I found both distracting from the message of the book, and
somewhat inaccurate, with what we now know. (I’d expect the impact of even a
single bomb to be much greater over a larger area than was described, and I’m
certain that the intelligencia would know not to walk back to the city
in which it occurred to look for “survivors”).

But with that minor fault, I’d throw Fahrenheit 451 out
there as a book that everyone simply must read. I hope it’s on high school
reading lists everywhere.