Dystopia & Dissidence — Ray Bradbury’s Vision More Relevant Than Ever
- 25 June 2012 by laila 2 Comments
Ray Bradbury could not have imagined the internet back in the early 50s when he wrote Fahrenheit 451, but there are certainly lots of “virtual book burnings” going on these days.
The light of public attention briefly landed on Ray Bradbury’s work this year on the event of his death. The fiction writer was part of the last century’s dystopian novelists that included H. G. Well, George Orwell, Franz Kafka, Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, Sinclair Lewis, Kurt Vonnegut, C.S. Lewis, Anthony Burgess, etc. His work Fahrenheit 451 was first published as a serial in “Playboy Magazine” in the 1950s after he had been rejected by several publishers.
These writers, reacting to fear intrinsic with the rise fascism and the excitement with the advances in technology, could clearly see how the two could be easily combined to repress the people of the world. Central to Bradbury’s novel was the control of information and ideas by the state through keeping the population illiterate by finding and burning books.
The story is based around a fireman named Montag who lives for his book-burning career and believes implicitly that people are much better off watching televisions blasting at full volume. Montag’s world is turned upside down by a chance meeting with a wild child who lives an experiential life of midnight walks and butterflies. Her soulful simplicity makes Montag question the harsh life he is living.
… we have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing.
Most people I know have read Fahrenheit 451 (it was required reading when I was in high school) but if you haven’t, give it a whirl. It is a quick read and its portrayal of censorship is still as relevant as ever giving the growing censorship issues online and the move towards privatizing the internet.
Science fiction always lends itself to open creativity when represented in other media formats. Just take a look at this collection of book design covers for Fahrenheit 451 over the years from Slate Magazine.
Joseph Mugnaini, the original cover designer of the first edition of Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, was an illustrator who worked collaboratively with Bradbury several times. His classic “paper man” figure became a symbol for the novel over the years.
Tim Hamilton also rendered Fahrenheit 451 into a graphic novel. The book, with an introduction by Ray Bradbury and created with his blessing, dramatizes the story in fiery detail.
“Wanting that futuristic ‘50s look is why my art for this book is influenced greatly by Art Deco and Russian Revolutionary poster art. I had mood boards made up from illustration from the ‘50s and Art Deco from the ‘30s, which is what I looked at when I illustrated Fahrenheit. Is that retro future? I’m not sure.” Hamilton said in an interview with Graphic NYC.
“Art Deco posters are often very bold, limited colors and large shapes,” Tim notes. “I wanted to do the entire book that way, with color and shapes, but I realized it would be impossibly time consuming to cut out these shapes in Photoshop. As it is, I erased much of the black line work where I could in that book. People, who saw the black line art for 451, before I scanned it and colored it, didn’t really understand what the book was going to look like once it was colored. My intern for one, who was working on the black and white art for months, saw the final art and said, ‘Oh! That’s what it looks like! I was wondering all this time.’”
The work is vivid and bold. Great graphic novel to add to your collection.
Reporters Without Borders recently released its report on Enemies of the Internet detailing the countries who censor and surveil the internet the most. The regimes on the list use internet service blocking, disrupted service, censorship of news and other sites as well as key word blocking. Surveillance methods include everything from phishing to forcing ISP services to hand over identities of users. Netizens and bloggers are periodically rounded up and jailed, disappeared or murdered. Ideas, it seems, are still as dangerous as ever. Check out these infographics from Fastcodesign based on the RWB statistics.