Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Earthly Chronicles

Ray Bradbury died yesterday aged 91. Science fiction writers are now routinely criticized for overimagining the technology of the future. As we now know, the first expedition to Mars did not take place in 1999; so Bradbury can be similarly faulted. Yet, in other ways he saw it all coming.

In his 20s, right after World War II (which he missed because of his poor eyesight), Bradbury described melancholically  a planet populated by cold, expressionless people who wore masks and could not be moved by even the most momentous event; and who were increasingly delusional yet found ways to rationalize it all; to the point of their ultimate destruction. Curiously, they still seemed somehow superior to the invaders from outer space; who, unsurprisingly, ended up vaporizing their own planet. That last part may only happen in slow motion, with no androids surviving; but otherwise, over 60 years later, the great writer’s vision still seems spot on.