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Contents Epigraph Introduction by Neil Gaiman one The Hearth and the Salamander two The Sieve and the Sand three Burning Bright History, Context, and Criticism PART ONE: THE STORY OF F AHRENHEIT 451 “The Story of Fahrenheit 451 ” by Jonathan R. Eller From “The Day After Tomorrow: Why Science Fiction?” (1953) by Ray Bradbury Listening Library Audio Introduction (1976) by Ray Bradbury “Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451 ” (1982, 1989) by Ray Bradbury “Coda” (1979) by Ray Bradbury PART TWO: OTHER VOICES The Novel: From a Letter to Stanley Kauffmann by Nelson Algren “Books of the Times” by Orville Prescott From “New Wine, Old Bottles” by Gilbert Highet “New Novels” by Idris Parry “New Fiction” by Sir John Betjeman “1984 and All That” by Adrian Mitchell From New Maps of Hell by Sir Kingsley Amis Introduction to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 by Harold Bloom
“Fahrenheit 451” by Margaret Atwood The Motion Picture: “Shades of Orwell” by Arthur Knight From “The Journal of Fahrenheit 451 ” by François Truffaut About Ray Bradbury
This one, with gratitude, is for Don Congdon
Introduction Sometimes writers write about a world that does not yet exist. We do it for a hundred reasons. (Because it’s good to look forward, not back. Because we need to illuminate a path we hope or we fear humanity will take. Because the world of the future seems more enticing or more interesting than the world of today. Because we need to warn you. To encourage. To examine. To imagine.) The reasons for writing about the day after tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow it, are as many and as varied as the people writing. This is a book of warning. It is a reminder that what we have is valuable, and that sometimes we take what we value for granted. There are three phrases that make possible the world of writing about the world of not-yet (you can call it science fiction or speculative fiction; you can call it anything you wish) and they are simple phrases: What if . . . ? If only . . . If this goes on . . . “What if . . . ?” gives us change, a departure from our lives. (What if aliens landed tomorrow and gave us everything we wanted, but at a price?) “If only . . .” lets us explore the glories and dangers of tomorrow. (If only dogs could talk. If only I were invisible.)
“If this goes on . . .” is the most predictive of the three, although it doesn’t try to predict an actual future with all its messy confusion. Instead, “If this goes on . . .” fiction takes an element of life today, something clear and obvious and normally something troubling, and asks what would happen if that thing, that one thing, became bigger, became all-pervasive, changed the way we thought and behaved. (If this goes on, all communication everywhere will be through text messages or computers, and direct speech between two people, without a machine, will be outlawed.) It’s a cautionary question, and it lets us explore cautionary worlds.

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