martes, 12 de junio de 2012

Bradbury: Fireproof Science Fiction, by Cristina Jurado (and many others)

Last week, Cristina Jurado wrote a wonderful tribute to Ray Bradbury on her Spanish blog Más ficción que ciencia on When I asked her, she kindly agreed to translate her article for this blog:

I was twelve or thirteen years old when I realized that science fiction was a built-in part of my life. That realization came, as all adolescent insights, thanks to a pretty much public humiliation. I needed to design the front page of a newspaper using the existing press as the model with its headlines, its news in columns and its related images. The morning I´m talking about I arrived to school very proud, holding my precious creation.

In my eyes the newspaper that I invented was, literally “out of this world”. Without a question, the design attracted attention because of its originality in form and content. When I saw my fellow students marching before me with their proposals, I started to feel cold sweet down my spine. They all prepared exact reproductions of the main Spanish newspapers. On the other hand, I proposed what I named The Martian Daily in which the international section was filled with news from other galaxies while national information was “reduced” to our solar system. My daily was pushed down the wall, at the back of the class, where all our works were displayed. I came home devastated.

Years later, digging up the guts of some public library, I found a book which I never heard about before. The header, The Martian Chronicles, instantly reminded me of my pathetic incursion into press editing of my school days. The name sounded like the one I once invented and, full of curiosity, I immersed myself into its pages. It was a bizarre book. Not really a novel, it was more a collection of short stories with a common background, making it easy to read as independent pieces.

I could not stop reading. I finished the book seating on the floor, oblivious to the pass of time. Few days later I brought my own copy. Since then, this book has accompanied me wherever I went, surviving me moving around and discovering new places together. The guy who wrote it was Ray Bradbury. He taught me to adopt other points of view. In his stories, the Others –robots, aliens or monsters- have a voice, display their feelings and express their opinions, and human beings cease to be the center of the Universe. He showed me an equally lyric and precise narrative style, full of humor, irony and powerful images, and a variety of speculative themes that transcend the sphere of science fiction. His contribution to popularize those themes helped the genre to get discovered by a broader audience and to gain critical acclaim. 

There are countless amounts of people overcame by sad emotions the past 5th of June, the day that Ray Bradbury left us. I would like to thank all of those that accepted to be part of this article, answering my call in Twitter and Facebook, and sending their answers to me. We asked them to share their favorite book by Bradbury and to reason their choice.

A statement against censorship

Many responded that Fahrenheit 451 was their favorite work from the Bradbury universe. British author Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) said: Fahrenheit 451, just because I read it in school and the central image of firemen burning books is so wonderfully simple. Luis (@lmayorgas) agrees with Reynolds: Although I read “Fahrenheit 451” long time ago, the image of Book-Men had a profound impact on me for a long time. For Anika (@anikalibros), from the web site Anika Entre Libros, it's her favorite book because it's visionary and has a vindictive spirit. I have read it as a traditional book and as a graphic novel. We could not ignore the web site that hosts this blog, (@libroscom), that states: It seems interesting the character of Montag, even though his work was to burn books.

@A_pHOBOS highlights from this novel the sensations that provides, at the same level as 1984 or Brave New World. Pedro (@leemaslibros) says: a dystopia where books are burned cannot leave a young reader indifferent. For Javier (@hansard) it is the first dystopia that he read: A universal and unforgettable novel. Knowledge fights fear. The blogger behind @lasletrasmolan admits that he liked the book because makes us think about the power of reading and the eagerness of the powerful class to demonized it to dominate the masses. 

Online magazine La Espada de la Tinta (@EspadaenlaTinta) points at Fahrenheit 451 as their preferred work because it awakens an everlasting love for books. Not only for books, but also for literature. For Germán ‏‪(@germanpv) the novel in itself is an important criticism towards censorship. The creative team of theroomrooms' @theroomrooms highlights the relevant state of its theme, defending culture and education, something that our government is putting at risk.

The always-interactive Otilia (@otiliamartin) likes this work because in a world without books, the idea of each person memorizing one and “becoming” that book fascinates me. Félix (@M4ugan), blogger and podcaster in La biblioteca de Trantor, remarks that the novel is one of the biggest statements in favor of books as a channel for critical thinking. Kanijo (@CienciaKanija), all but small in spreading science, states that this book highlights the importance of literature as an individual and a social right.

Arturo @elprofedefisica points out that this novel combines futurism without the need for spacecrafts. Explores our psyche and shows us our reach. Clarisse @ClarisseIsidoro, whose twitter-name honors one of the characters in Fahrenheit 451, thinks that the book depicts how ideas are enough to change the world. And it is becoming something very necessary. The author of La Marca del Guerrero (@LaMarcaDelGuerr) answers that this book: It´s a classic! You got to have it. Why? Simply because Bradbury´s reason to write it is both fascinating and curious.

Sergio is behind the everlasting outreach work of @ondasolitaria. This is his favorite story by Bradbury: It reflects a certain society that each day is more real. Unfortunately… Juan Manuel, co-founder of the videogame online magazine Nivel Oculto (@Niveloculto), says: I liked Fahrenheit 451, but I remember with love one story of The Illustrated Man called “Kaleidoscope”.

Gavin Rothery, Concept Art Director and Special and Visual Effects Supervisor for the movie Moon (2009) confesses: Got to be Fahrenheit 451. I love the way it's a very personal, small-scale story set in a hugely wide context. Exactly the way to approach these big concepts; to make them relatable by telling a close-in story. So well done. It's not a co-incidence that this is probably his most famous work.

Writer and Director Tim Hole (@Indievolution) says: I would add Fahrenheit 451 to my list of unforgettable Sci-fi endings. It's incredibly poetic. Writer Lucía Etxebarria (@LaEtxebarria) admits that the book is a masterpiece. Director and “story teller” David Galán Galindo (@dggalindo1982) wanted to pay tribute to this novel with La Máscara de Muerte 451: In my case, they burned comic strips, of course. Miquel (@Qdony) adds that, as a metaphor is a very powerful book.

Filmmaker Montxo Armendariz (@montxoarmendar) choses Fahrenheit 451 because, apart from having a brilliant narrative style, it´s an statement against intolerance and a premonition about where society can go if it denies the fundamentals of education: reading and thinking.

Dehumanized chronicles

Science Fiction and Fantasy portal @literfan answered that The Martian Chronicles is their favorite, because of its deep suggestive power. Mexican writer Alberto Chimal (@albertochimal) thinks that this book is the most outstanding title of Bradbury because of the way it encapsulates a whole vision of life in a vision of the future.

Javier @javromara states that The Martian Chronicles captures all the Bradburys, melancholy, poetry, humor, and terror… For Luis Felipe (‏‪@Rokko69_RM) the story “Night meeting” included in the book left a trace on him because it´s about two beings meeting in a place but coming from different time periods. For a strange reason they can see and communicate with one another. I believe that human relationships, the important ones, are somehow similar. One synchronizes for a brief sight with the loved one.

Guillermo (@casiopeaexpres) answers that this story is told from oddness and not from empathy and because some Africans buy a spacecraft. @Antonomasico thinks that it´s a fabulous collection of stories, a pioneer of the genre; full of fantasy, deep thinking and poetry.

Ricardo, one of the directors of the digital magazine miNatura, answers that he liked specially the story “The Musicians” because it shows how a group of children go to play among the destroyed homes of a Martian dead city. There, they find the copses and skulls of the Martian creatures with which they play. Nevertheless, they do it rather quickly because the “firemen” – in connection to Fahrenheit 451- are coming to burn the remains of those ruined Martian cities.

Manuel (@mahernandezg), author of Yo, Virtual (published on demand and available through Kindle), admits that he likes the novel because it was my first Bradbury book and because it tough me that the Martians, in the end, are us.

Canadian biologist and writer Julie Czerneda answers: While there are many Ray Bradbury stories that resonate with me, The Martian Chronicles remains my favorite. It had all the elegance and grace of fantasy, the realism and grit of a main stream literary work, and that wonder that drives the best SF. Bradbury knew what sang to the imagination, and had the words to convey it, every time. He'll be missed.

Astrophysicist and writer Miguel Santander (@migusant) says that The Martian Chronicles is almost poetry in prose. Jesús (@Jesusdelrio66) admits that he liked the book for the shivering of reuniting with your dead father and for the tears of lost opportunities.

Gavin Rothery could not resist the temptation to share with us something about The Martian Chronicles. I know it gets heat but I always loved the TV adaptation of the Martian Chronicles. Apparently Ray B found it boring. It felt really bleak and it really stayed with me as a kid. Proper old-school sci-fi. I saw it as a very young kid on TV and although I couldn't follow the story the images haunted me. Dead towns and gyrocopters.

Pablo (@pbuydid) confesses: I always felt a fascination for The Martian Chronicles. I could never read Fahrenheit 451. Apart from that, I have read (Bradbury´s) short stories for the mix of emotions in his writings. From emotive stories to thrillers. It made me live the Adventure. Sergi (@SergiBellver) declares: I can´t chose between Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles because both are masterpieces.

Animated tattoos, time travel and fantasy summers

For Francisco Juarez (@DANZAFRACTAL), his favorite Bradbury book is without a doubt, The Illustrated ManWonderful wave of amazing stories without a connection, apart from their beauty and horror…  Writer Mateo Coronado (@mateocoronado) thinks that the collected stories of The Illustrated Man are still relevant because of their deep sense, which is still pertinent. Like the good literature, it knows how to age.

José Antonio (@librosybitios) also selected this book for the variety and quality of the scenarios and plots. Elías (@odo), from the blog Sense of Wonder, points out: The Illustrated Man because of its capacity to suggest images with each story.

Many of those who respond to our call could not chose only one book by Bradbury. Writer and journalist José Luis Merino, author of the blog Ladrones de Fuego on El País, tells us: I bought five books by Bradbury many years ago, because they have short stories –it was a time when short stories were in fashion- (…) published by Minotauro-Edhasa (…) I don't remember how many I read. [Bradbury] was maybe the first to insist to “walk in space”.

The blog Literatúrame (@literaturamenet) remembers indispensable classics like The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 as well as the Halloweenian long story and the tales from The Illustrated Man. All good!

Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia (@AlexdelaIglesia) states that the best of Bradbury can be experienced in the tale Tyrannosaurus Rex, from the collection The Machineries of Joy.  Writer Juan Gómez-Jurado (‏‪@JuanGomezJurado) likes The October Country because it stroke me its row depth. Jean (‏‪@jean_mallart) says that another title is S is for Space, a bit like The Illustrated Man but superior and strangely unknown.

Alberto (@Moguei) answers: my preferred title by Bradbury is “The Sound of Thunder”, a transcendent story for future works about time traveling. The atmosphere, the careful starting point and the shocking end have clearly contributed to the science fiction genre. This short story is included in the anthology The Golden Apples of the Sun.

@TAKHISISEAM has chosen “The Sound of Thunder”: I love the implications of time traveling to the past and how it can alter the future. Salvador (@sbautlo) agrees and adds: I like the cliché of time traveling in science fiction.

Writer Amy Thomson reveals to us that her favorite Bradbury book is Dandelion Wine. In part because it's so beautifully written. I started reading SF with the ABC's: Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke. Bradbury taught me to love a beautiful prose style at an age when most kids were barely out of chapter books. I devoured his short story collections, and they left a deep imprint on my taste in reading. But Dandelion Wine stood out as a perfect evocation of a childhood summer.

Gregorio Belinchón (@gbelinchon), cinema critic for El País, has also chosen Dandelion Wine: because I also spend some weird summers in my childhood, although no like this blend of fantasy and reality.

Maria (@mselke01) confesses that my favorite #RayBradbury is the illustrated version of "Homecoming". Though I also love the full From The Dust Returned. I love the strange family with their oddly normal child, and how it shows the common theme of longing to fit in.

Luis (@addkerberos), one of the thinking heads behind online mag milinviernos, describes A medicine for melancholy as a collection of stories different from The Martian Chronicle’s –which I also love. Even though belongs to the universe of The Chronicles, it does not try to have a common theme: the stories are more independent.

British writer China Miéville has participated unexpectedly in this humble tribute to Bradbury through an e-mail. In his own words: the key text for me is a short story called 'The Man Upstairs', because of its unremittingly macabre imagery, camouflaged by his usual charming tone, and the image that he presents at the end. It's an extraordinary work.

The blog finally snapped out of lethargy. But it does not speak. I see it surrounded by an ocean of bits. Looks like virtual creatures don't cry. They express sadness dropping shreds of information. No doubt that Bradbury’s departure saddens the blog more than it admits.

I want to dedicate this post to @RCardonet, who has also leave us. I don’t believe in paradise o reincarnation but I trust the power of imagination. That is why I want to think that he is sharing a spacecraft ride with Bradbury heading towards Kuiper's asteroid belt and winning at Scrabble. We already miss you two.

About Cristina Jurado: 

Cristina Jurado Marcos writes the sci-fi blog Más ficción que ciencia on Having a degree in Advertising and Public Relations by Universidad de Seville and a Masters in Rhetoric by Northwestern University (USA), she currently studies Philosophy for fun. She considers herself a globetrotter after living in Edinburgh, Chicago, Paris or Dubai. Her short stories have appeared in several sci-fi online magazines and anthologies. Her first novel From Orange to Blue will be published in Spring 2012.

2 comentarios:

  1. Lo interesante de muchas de estas reacciones: que hay quienes, parece, relacionan ciencia ficción con novela, y otros que, más conocedores, se nota, entienden que Bradbury era, sobre todo, un autor de relatos.

    Las propias Martian Chronicles es una colección de relatos, aunque tenga un marco común. Le pasa un poco como a Ballard. Se conocen sus novelas, pero menos sus relatos. Y los relatos de Ballard puede que sea lo mejor de él.

    Y por eso supongo que al final el arte de Bradbury no se conoce del todo. Pese a Farenheint 451 que, con 1984, se relaciona con las grandes obras distópicas.

    Curioso, también, que se siga identificando buena ciencia ficción con "mensaje" y "denuncia". Pero nos falta tradición lectora y productora en este género, por lo que supongo que se entiende bastante poco.

  2. Totalmente de acuerdo: a mí Bradbury me parece un autor fundamentalmente de relatos, aunque su obra más "conocida" sea Fahrenheit 451.