by Ray Bradbury

The Library of America
2021, 889 pages, $40

ISBN 978-1-59853-700-0

Click Here to Purchase

Amazing, isn’t it? SF writers have a sufficient disposition and ability to foresee the future, to observe what is coming.

In his appendix and story notes to this collection of three novels, Bradbury talks about the Fire Man short novel he wrote (FAHRENHEIT 451), describing a scene which, written more than seven decades ago, foresees the future.

From Page 811:

“Elsewhere in the narrative I described my Fire Man arriving home after midnight and finding his wife in bed afflicted with two varieties of stupor. She is in a trance, a condition so withdrawn as to resemble catatonia, compounded of equal parts of liquor and a small Seashell thimble-radio tucked in her ear. The Seashell croons and murmurs its music and commercials and private little melodramas for her alone.”

Earbuds? Seashells? Could it be Bluetooth?

Bradbury remembers a time that he saw a couple taking a stroll in a real-life neighborhood on the Gold Coast, in which a wife had wires to a portable transistor radio in her ear. She was oblivious to her walking partner.

It goes on.

From Page 817:

“I do not know whether tomorrow’s street will be full of human beings with Seashell thimble-radios whispering in their ears and all the world and its problems moved away from and neglected.”

In the afterwords/story notes, the fantasy fiction magician gives readers a true-life tale of growing up in Waukegan, Ill., and transferring that experience during his imaginative and active childhood into what happens to the boys of the novels DANDELION WINE, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

But a less repressive and censored future awaits us as Bradbury reacts to his own perceived future in FAHRENHEIT 451. Rocket summer is here. Just ask Elon Musk. We have overcome 1984 and 451 and perhaps, in Bradbury’s celebrations of our present and future, in these tales and essays, mankind may just have a future.