Book burning. It’s yesterday’s science fiction turned real.

A Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories

The incipient 451.

I wonder who would have believed it, back then when he was writing it? The Burning of Books. The mark of an anti-civilisation. Yet here we are, watching it happening all around us. Manchester Library is on a rampage, it turns out they could make the library such a better place if it weren’t for all those damned books:

Manchester Library destroys its books

Just as we now have generations who did not know an internet free world, now we have children being brought up bereft of books, not out of some sort of to-be-despised-or-pitied-poverty but because the format of the book is now seen as undesirable. In my home town Adelaide, whole schools are simply eradicating the book as if it is some sort of pest. Children in those schools will no longer read books, they read words on machines.

I have never felt comfortable walking into book-free houses. It is one of the things that makes a house a home, something with character, a way of reading where one is. Maybe Ray Bradbury died just in time. He hated the kindle – no great surprise there.

One impact of the internet – and it is impossible not to associate electronic forms of books with some of the bad aspects of the internet – is that falsehoods spread about enough become facts. The more times they are spread about, the more sure we are they are correct. I reflect upon that because I want to end with the famous Bradbury quote:

“I don’t try to predict the future. I try to prevent it.”

This has been quoted a gadzillion times lately as everybody cuts and pastes the same few bits of information to do ‘their’ obit of Bradbury. I wanted to see where it came from, was it a real quote, or just one of those made up internet ‘facts’ that we can no longer even being bothered questioning. It’s on the internet, lots of people believe it, who cares whether it is actually true?

I can’t find the original source at a first glance, but I am comforted to see that Arthur C Clarke says this:

PP: It’s frightening that man is so destructive and at the same time so much good is being done.

AC: I’ve many, many times quoted my friend Ray Bradbury on this when he says: “ I don’t try to predict the future, I try to prevent it”.

And there is audio of this interview with Clarke to boot: AC Clarke interview

Not that this makes it a fact either, but we are getting close. The more so since ACC himself seems to have some care for the facts. I love the dry response here:

PP: But you also said that you had a dream about extraterrestrials who got off a space ship and said: “Take me to Arthur Clarke” but that dream turned into a nightmare when they said: “Take me to Isaac Asimov!”

AC: Ah yes, I never actually dreamt that but I saw and read that quotation once, or twice.

One thought on “Book burning. It’s yesterday’s science fiction turned real.

  1. Sigh…if people do not want the books they have then I wish they would pass them on. Destroying books of value to others is a crime!

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