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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ray Bradbury’s Future by Stacy

In February and March, the Stillwater community will be reading Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” for the library’s latest One Book, One Community series.  You can join your neighbors for scholarly presentations, theatrical performances, films and many book discussions.  One of the most fascinating aspects of “Fahrenheit 451” you’ll find are the details Bradbury describes that sound an awful lot like our lives today, but were nowhere close to being reality back when he wrote the book in the early fifties.  I’m listing a few below; but when you read the book, I challenge you to note some of the other examples and share them during your book discussions.

How many of you put in your earbuds at night to fall asleep to the sound of music or the soothing voices in an audiobook?  In “Fahrenheit 451,” the main character, Montag, has a wife, Minnie, who wears tiny seashell-like devices that fit into her ears and play music while she drifts to sleep.  Those small devices are very similar to the earbuds and mini-ipods or the Bluetooth technology we use today.

Montag’s wife is also consumed with the giant, wall sized television screens that play non-stop all day long.  Today, 80 inch flat screened televisions aren’t uncommon in homes, and with projectors, some of us are watching TV on an entire wall.  Minnie’s screens play the type of sensationalistic shows that sound an awful lot like reality TV shows today.  Her TV shows also let the public interact with the people in the TV programs which is very similar to the live tweeting we do that can change the outcome of results on shows like “The Voice.”

Bradbury also predicts twenty-four hour money dispensing machine like our ATMS, constant surveillance like today’s satellites and street monitoring, and much more.

To me, Bradbury’s ability to predict the future is what makes the book so unnerving.  If he was so able to see the technology we would be using today, is he right that this technology will overtake our lives and lead us to stop reading and interacting with each other? 

Bradbury once said, “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Well, I say let’s help him out by getting a library card, picking up a book and bringing our kids to the library.   And of course, one way to keep his most dire predictions unrealized is by signing up for our “One Book, One Community” event.  The Kick-off is Monday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

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