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ContentsEpigraphIntroduction by Neil Gaimanone The Hearth and the Salamandertwo The Sieve and the Sandthree Burning BrightHistory, Context, and CriticismPART ONE: THE STORY OFFAHRENHEIT451“The Story of Fahrenheit 451” by Jonathan R. EllerFrom “The Day After Tomorrow: Why Science Fiction?” (1953) by Ray BradburyListening Library Audio Introduction (1976) by Ray Bradbury“Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451” (1982, 1989) by Ray Bradbury“Coda” (1979) by Ray BradburyPART TWO: OTHER VOICESThe Novel:From a Letter to Stanley Kauffmann by Nelson Algren“Books of the Times” by Orville PrescottFrom “New Wine, Old Bottles” by Gilbert Highet“New Novels” by Idris Parry“New Fiction” by Sir John Betjeman“1984 and All That” by Adrian MitchellFrom New Maps of Hellby Sir Kingsley AmisIntroduction to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451by Harold Bloom
“Fahrenheit 451” by Margaret AtwoodThe Motion Picture:“Shades of Orwell” by Arthur KnightFrom “The Journal of Fahrenheit 451” by François TruffautAbout Ray Bradbury
This one, with gratitude,is for Don Congdon
IntroductionSometimes writers write about a world that does not yet exist. We do it for ahundred reasons. (Because it’s good to look forward, not back. Because we needto illuminate a path we hope or we fear humanity will take. Because the world ofthe future seems more enticing or more interesting than the world of today.Because we need to warn you. To encourage. To examine. To imagine.) Thereasons for writing about the day after tomorrow, and all the tomorrows thatfollow 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, andthat sometimes we take what we value for granted.There are three phrases that make possible the world of writing about theworld of not-yet (you can call it science fiction or speculative fiction; you can callit 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 alienslanded tomorrow and gave us everything we wanted, but at a price?)“If only . . .” lets us explore the glories and dangers of tomorrow. (If only dogscould talk. If only I were invisible.)
“If this goes on . . .” is the most predictive of the three, although it doesn’t tryto predict an actual future with all its messy confusion. Instead, “If this goeson . . .” fiction takes an element of life today, something clear and obvious andnormally something troubling, and asks what would happen if that thing, that onething, became bigger, became all-pervasive, changed the way we thought andbehaved. (If this goes on, all communication everywhere will be through textmessages 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.