Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That's Great, But How Do You Light The Damn Thing?

From the Guardian

Science fiction legend Ray Bradbury, who at 91 has long been one of the last bastions against the digital age, has crumbled, with his classic novel Fahrenheit 451 finally published as an ebook.

In the past Bradbury has said that ebooks "smell like burned fuel", telling the New York Times in 2009 that "the internet is a big distraction". In an interview in which he also said that he had "total recall" and remembered "being in the womb … coming out was great", he told the paper that he had been contacted by Yahoo eight weeks earlier. "They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? 'To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the internet. It's distracting," he said. "It's meaningless; it's not real. It's in the air somewhere."

But the author has now been convinced otherwise, with his American publisher Simon & Schuster announcing on Tuesday that it was releasing the first ever ebook of Fahrenheit 451, a novel which has sold more than 10m copies since it was first published in 1953 and in which Bradbury predicts a dystopian future where books are burned and reading banned. The ebook release was part of a new publishing deal, reported to be worth seven figures, for all English language print and digital formats of Fahrenheit 451 in North America, and English language mass market rights in North America for Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.

Maybe it's time someone re-imagines "Fahrenheit 451." Not the basic premise, which of course rings just as true (if not much more so) today, but the method. I mean, seriously, WWGMD (What Would Guy Montag Do?).

Let's face it, deleting a hard drive or someone's "cloud" account just doesn't have quite the same flair, resonance, or sheer dystopian panache as flamethrowers and literary bonfires, does it?  

It's just one more example of the native superiority of real books over those ephemeral ersatz abominations. Hell, real books even destroy better and with more style...

 I do wonder, however, how #1 Bradbury Fan Rachel Bloom is taking the news?


  1. How's Rachel taking the news? Duh how do you think they got him to agree!
    Let the record show I will do anything Ms Bloom asks when she asks and she wont have to ask twice.

  2. I'd almost forgotten about her. Almost. I'm sure there's room on her power strip for one more rechargeable device.

  3. Nope, deleting someone's stuff from the cloud isn't particularly dystopian... at least not in the dramatic way of burning their books.

    But how about publishers, or even booksellers, going back in and changing the actual text of those books without the knowledge or consent of the reader or the author? Almost like merging Orwell and Bradbury (and a little Joseph Heller just because).

    Scary stuff, to be honest... and I'm really not a luddite.