Ray Bradbury Hysterical Theater: We Got Too Much Gummint, Too Many Internets, But Not Enough Moon Colonies! UPDATED AUGUST 17!


The inspiration for one of the worst movies of all time (Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451) and a pretty good one (Disney's Something Wicked This Way Comes), and a bunch of better and worse books, has gotten into the Grandpa Simpson zone of Larry King-esque observational complaints. Here's author Ray Bradbury in hypoglycemic overload:

"We should never have left [the moon]. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever."…

"I think our country is in need of a revolution," Bradbury said. "There is too much government today. We've got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people and for the people."…

"We have too many cellphones. We've got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now."…

"I was approached three times during the last year by Internet companies wanting to put my books" on an electronic reading device, he said. "I said to Yahoo, 'Prick up your ears and go to hell.' "

Thanks, Ray, for making your work more difficult to access, you Luddite old fart. Maybe we can just get Oskar Werner and Julie Christie to commit Dandelion Wine to memory and then keep them alive for all eternity.

More here.

UPDATE (August 17): I received the following note from Brick Wahl, the LA Weekly's jazz columnist, which I thought was worth posting in full (and even bumping the Shatneria down a bit):

I was at that Ray Bradbury event. My wife's a fan, I tagged along. It was in a wonderful old fashioned used book store, and was a very charming party full of long winded reminiscenences and toasts, and to be honest anything Ray said I have heard him say before. Nothing was new. Not a damn thing. He's been bitching about machines for his entire career (he wrote everything on a manual typewriter). He's always hated being called a science fiction writer. His government views have changed little. The moon stuff is not surprising…we've fallen decades behind schedule on that one compared to what was expected in the sixties, and he's frustrated not to have witnessed a mars landing. Hard to blame the man on that one. And even his plural internet is pefectly valid unless one pretends that all the intranets, some of them truly vast, are not actually internets…and of course Google is working on its own internet–not intranet–as we speak. He's hip enough to know that.

And that pic the Times used was not the beaming, laughing old gent who I watched on Sunday.

Alas, that badly written and edited blog entry in the LA Times has now become part of his legacy. The man is being trashed all over the web–like you have done–based strictly upon that little story. There's no turning back now. He'll be dead soon enough, and that bullshit story will long survive him, and will become him to many people. After all, they saw it on the internet, it has to be true.

Thx much….


Brick Wahl
LA Weekly
Jazz columnist

And now back to the finale ultimo of the original post:

For your viewing pleasure, here's William Shatner in "The Playground," from the old Ray Bradbury Theater series ("exactly one-half exhiliration, exactly one-half terror"), which shows just how far premium cable has come, baby. Le Shat has never been better, except maybe in his all Esperanto showcase, Incubus, or possibly as Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov. But what the hell:

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  1. Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury

    NSFW language, should be obvious.

    1. The production value of that was surprisingly good…

      Plus boobs


    2. That was awesome. I laughed my ass off.

    3. Predictable.
      Bradbury calls Reagan a great president and all the moonbats crap their diapers, launching a smear campaign against him.

      Gutless, cringing cowards.

    4. By the way, I’m a dumbshit troll.

  2. The only reason Ray Bradbury doesn’t like cell phones or the Internet is because he was unable to predict either, while the predictions he made about moon bases and Mars colonies fell flat on their faces. In other words, he’s a bitter old man whose best days are long behind him.

    1. Bradbury was more of a poet than he was any kind of science prognosticator.

      And talk about bitter, Cpt.Smartass…

  3. I’m all for keeping Julie Christie alive for all eternity, particularly in the condition she was in circa 1964-1974.

    1. My vote to. Her circa Don’t Look Back, would work just fine.

      1. “Don’t Look Now”

        Nicholas Roeg’s finest film not starring Jenny Agutter

    2. Ah yes, Julie Christie is my little Babushka Doll. My vote goes for Dr. Zhivago.

      1. Horrid, horrid movie. The material at the beginning of the movie is the book’s epilogue, so the movie gives the whole thing away at the beginning.

        Its socialist realism ending is stomach-turning, too.

  4. Why didn’t you get something useful, like storm windows, or a nice pipe organ? I’m thirsty. Ew, what smells like mustard? There sure are a lot of ugly people in your neighborhood. Oh, lookit that one! Ow, my glaucoma just got worse. The president is a Demmycrat. Hello? I can’t unbuckle my seatbelt. Hel-loo? ::honk hoooooooooooonk::

    1. Plus, everything’s stolen nowadays. Why the fax machine is nothing but a waffle iron with a phone attached.

  5. I was always more partial to Asimov.

  6. Yeah! Fuck you, Ray Bradbury, you wacko!

    First he yammers on about reducing government when all the experts say that in these tough economic times we need to spend more to help folks out of this rough spot.

    Go join a militia you old racist!

    Then he goes and say that we should be exploring space, and colonizing the solar system…quit living in the past grandpa! I’m sure it was great walking to school uphill bothways through moon-dust to school, but we have more pressing problems now…like 47million uninsured Americans. Thousands die every day and you want to take this country a step back with space travel!

    Mr. Brabury also thinks there are too many “internets” nowadays, I say to him; go over to youtube and read the comments below a video…you will see how the internet has educated the world and brought everybody together.

    1. That is a pretty good piece of theatric trolling. That is Max level stupidity. It has everything, people dying, accising anyone against government of being a racist.

      Maybe you should look into buyin the Max/Edward/Lefiti franchise and revilatizing it. I think there is enought stupid there to support three or for troll identities.

      1. My inspiration was from the comments in the original article. A lot of them basically say; “He wants to reduce the size of government, but wants to colonize Mars which would cost the government $trillions”. They never think that such things could be done privately. Also, a lot of liberals are against NASA funding because they feel that it will lessen the entitlement honey pot.

        Also, the Bradbury quotes seem to be in some sort of context which the reader is only left to wonder about. Unless Mr. Bradbury just shouts out sentences apropos of nothing, as in TOO MANY INTERNETS! (I don’t think he would) we are not getting the full story.

        1. I liked when he ripped Michael Moore for the title “Fahrenheit 9/11”.

          1. Cut RB some slack. It was an homage. Moore has forgiven him. 😉

            1. I don’t forgive Moore.

            2. Actually, I’m embarrassed to say that I misunderstood Suki’s original comment, and my response was gratuitous. Reading Suki’s comment again, I see that I actually agree that Michael Moore should have been ripped for mangling Bradbury’s title. I don’t forgive Moore, either.

        2. Quality trolling is hard to find these days. +1

        3. They never think that such things could be done privately.

          But neither did Mr. Bradbury when he says “WE should never have left the moon. WE have fallen behind.”

          It’s clear he’s talking about NASA and not private space exploration.

          That doesn’t make him a doddering old man. He’s been that inconsistent for decades.

          1. Try ‘we’ as in ‘we, the people’, just try it, see how good it feels? Who needs that government bindin’ ya all up?

    2. You definitely have a point about youtube comments.

  7. Didn’t he say that Fahrenheit 451 was written to express his anger at television for making people stupid?

    1. “We should never have left [the moon]. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever.”…

      Moving the human race to places in our solar system without magnetic fields? He was already stupid without TV.

  8. I believe the lost last sentence was “Get off my lawn!”

  9. Ne estu vin abomenante Inkubon, abomenanto!

    1. vin = vi

    2. I saw that not too long ago. It was so memorable, I’ve forgotten nearly all of it.

      OTOH, it couldn’t have sucked that badly, or I would have remembered.

    3. Authors called Bradbury, they go, the house?

      1. Esperanto: “Ne estu vi abomenante Inkubon, abomenanto!”

        English: “Don’t you be hating (on) Incubus, hater!”*

        * “to hate” is technically “malami,” but I used “to loathe” = “abomeni” to express a more vitriolic feeling.

  10. Bradbury’s always been *the* anti-technology science fiction writer. (He’s not even a big fan of science fiction)

    1. You have to read only one book or story by Ray Bradbury. Any of them. They’re all the same.

  11. Let’s be kind to Ray Bradbury. His too-much-government comment is a step in the right direction from a lifelong booster of public spending who credits the L.A. Public Library system with making him successful. That he’s afraid of the computerwebs makes him exactly like my dad, probably your dad, and the majority of old men out there.

    When Kurt Vonnegut died I called Bradbury up to see if he’d write something for the LAT. He declined, but called me back personally, spent a few minutes expressing his admiration for Vonnegut, and was every inch a gentleman.

    I’ve never been a big reader of his works, but he seems like an OK human being.

    1. Plus one.

      The internet isn’t for everyone, neither are cell-phones. What’s important is being free and doing your own thing, right? I get annoyed at the assumption that right-minded free people will all have the same preferences and tastes.

    2. Tim,

      That Dalmia girl will be ripping you off at 7:00AM Eastern. I suggest a fatwa to put a stop to this.

    3. Amen. The Jacket went too far hatin’ on that sweet old man.

    4. To be fair, the main reason he credits the L.A. library is because it had the pay typewriters he used to write his earliest pro stories. He learned to write fast because of that. Incentives matter.

    5. Also, Bradbury was the nicest interview subject I’ve ever had.

  12. I didn’t see his comments as all that damning.

    – People do rely heavily on technology. The use of tech is not a bad thing, but the inability to operate without tech (even if slower) also has drawbacks.

    – I also understand wanting your works to remain in hard copy rather than digital. Maybe he thinks something is to be gained from reading the text in book format? I prefer reading books for annotation reasons and just the experience.

    1. While I like the idea of electronic books, I don’t have a Kindle or other reader, and have no plans on getting one.

      I don’t find the technology scary or bad, but I don’t want to use it, either.

  13. “We should never have left [the moon]. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever.”…

    We are already living on the safest place we know of in the universe. Did this rant come before or after Hawking’s loony rant about relocating? They sound like teenage boys doing ever more stupid things to get attention.

    1. Earth won’t last forever. The idea of colonizing space to make the human race last forever is not a new one by any means.

      1. The underlying presumption, however, is that the perpetual survival of the human race is somehow desirable, in the grand scheme of the universe.

        I remain as yet not fully convinced.

        1. Grand scheme? Until someone lets us in on that, I think perpetuating our species is a good idea. We may be whacked out, but we might get better or breed/manufacture a better class of successor. Besides, if we go, what’s next? A planet of apes? Squirrels? Bah.

        2. The human race will not survive. Whether it is through becoming cyborgs or even full robots, genetic engineering, or natural evolution, “we” will someday be totally different from “our descendants”. And that of course, assuming we have descendants.

  14. On a personal note, I almost knocked both Ray Bradbury and Will Eisner on their asses colliding with them at Comic Con 2004. It was crowded, and they had handlers. Their fault.

  15. I thought Bradbury was dead.


    We have too many cellphones.


    Star trek is what made these things pop culture before they even existed.

    1. Awesome I totally confused Gene Roddenberry with Ray Bradbury.

    2. Star Trek communicators were basically walkie-talkies which had been a well-established technology. Though Trek did anitcipate the shape of a flip phone.

      1. ST communicators dont have a keyboard, which makes them totally unusable.

        1. But they did have a little knob, at least a button or two, and a flashie light.

    3. I was curious to see if anybody else was surprised to hear he’s still alive. It’s like Lugosi in “Ed Wood”: “I thought he was dead…”

  16. These internets would sure had come in handy in Fahrenheit 451…

  17. The best expression of Bradbury’s belief in the necessity for space travel and exploration is in an essay he wrote for Playboy back in ’72 called “From Stonehenge to Tranquility Base.” Track it down if you can. It reads almost like Ayn Rand at her most powerful and poetic. It is angry, bitter and ultimately hopeful. Bradbury is one of our best writers and a great man. I think that, closing in on his century mark, he deserves better than the usual Hit & Run commenters’ snark.

  18. Mrs. Rayburn (HS engrish teacher): That is why you all need to appreciate Ray Bradbury.

    Me: I’ll agree that he’s skilled at writing descriptive scenes, but I don’t see why he deserves our attention. Asimov contributed more to the field, both in terms of scientific concepts and internally consistent plots. Do you really believe Ray Bradbury best represents science fiction?

    After that it was made clear my opinion counted for nothing because I didn’t have a degree. I have nothing against Ray Bradbury as a person, but the unpublished books I blindly churn out while drunk on wood alcohol have more relevance than the bulk of his works, and the pseudologic of his supporters only hurts his cause. If someone wants to alter my impression through rational discourse, I’m all ears.

    1. Martin: If elected President, I will fill our school library with the ABC’s of science fiction: Asimov, Bester, and Clarke!

      Wendell: What about Bradbury?

      Martin: (dismissively) I’m aware of his work.

    2. I put Asimov and Bradbury in the same category…some good stuff, but overall tend to avoid.

      The category is broad, they are their for different reasons.

      1. I like Bradbury quite a bit, but Asimov is one of my favorites.

        Shall we say neuronic whips at twenty paces?

  19. Few people realize this, but the movie Fahrenheit 451 was based on a book.

  20. I’ll bet a Kindle would fare about as well as a book at 451F

  21. I am, frankly, kind of surprised at this. I saw Ray Bradbury give a keynote address at a conference about 20 years ago, and his main theme then was nearly the opposite: technology is good, human ingenuity would solve problems, pay no attention to the doom-and-gloom folks. It was a page out of the Julian Simon playbook, and he seemed very upbeat. I could detect no trace of this Luddite streak. Maybe he’s just become a grumpy old man.

    1. If F451 is a guide, he opposes technology that allows people to turn off their minds (TV in F451). If he sees cell phones and the intertubes in the same way, then his comment makes sense. He isnt opposed to technology, he is opposed to the way people use it.

      1. And I would agree with him on that. I think people use technology too much, or for stupid things. But I also think that I don’t get to dictate other people’s preferences.

  22. Ray Bradbury has always been a dip-shit. And calling him a luddite is much too kind. He’s a pair of ass-lips. While history tends to separate the artist from the art, I hope in Bradbury’s case, historians will remember what a petty little prick he was in real life.

    1. Say what you really mean. Don’t mince words.

  23. I love the old fart and have always found him inspiring. I also had the pleasure to interview him once. It was an honor, but what was up with the onion on his belt?

    1. It was the style at the time.

  24. I’m struck by the dichotomy of his calling for Lunar Colonies in one breath and in the next wheeze decrying how much Technology people use. In his senile fading years he apparently doesn’t remember how much technology it takes to keep a human alive outside our planet’s atmosphere.

    I always classed Bradbury as a fantasist (but not a classic fantasy writer), as his work had a larger element of “techno” magic to them than true technological/scientific speculation. That put him on the same plane as Ellison, not Heinlein, Asimov, & Clarke.

    1. Actually, the tech required to go to the moon, and even stay there, isn’t all that “high,” compared to what we’re currently capable of. Recall that the Apollo missions got, what, 14 men to the surface of the moon and back, some of them spending a day or two there – all using mechanical rockets controlled by a computer that had less computing power than the chip that manages your car’s engine today – or than your iPod.

      The LEM was basically a big aluminum foil box with a rocket motor on the bottom, controlled by the equivalent of a modern digital wristwatch.

      1. “… the Apollo missions got, what, 14 men to the surface of the moon and back….”

        Almost: 12 men, two per mission.

        Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.

        Apollo 13 went around the moon but did not land.

        1. Ironically Jim Lovell’s license plate reads out as “I landed” Well on the important one anyway I guess.

      2. The hurdle with going to the moon is not the electronics — it’s the fuel and weight.

        You need enough fuel on the lunar craft to get around the moon and back to Earth. Then you have to have enough fuel to get the lunar craft and its fuel from Earth to the moon. Then you need a launcher to lift the lunar craft, its fuel, the moon stage, its fuel, the launcher, and its fuel off Earth.

  25. If you think Fahrenheit 451 was one of the worst films of all time, you simply haven’t seen enough movies.

    I’ve seen plenty worse just in the last month.

    1. I saw worse last night. I was flipping through the channels and came across Sliver. When it first came out I was fourteen, and seeing that it was right before the birth of internet porn the sex scenes made quite an impression. Watching it again seventeen years later any feelings of nostalgia I might have otherwise had were completely crushed by the fact that the dude fucking Sharon Stone was BILLY FUCKING BALDWIN.

  26. Eh, it’s not Gore Vidal old-man level crazy. Crotchety, eccentric old writer…news at 11.

    The best part is the update from ‘Brick Wahl’ in which he drops crocodile tears over the reports from the even….while confirming said reports are 100% accurate. Maybe his assistant ‘Sindar Bloch’ can give him the news that accurately reporting comments and running PR filters aren’t the same activities.

  27. I’m surprised at the harsh view of Bradbury. I rather like his writing, reading him more as a fantasy author than anything approaching hard science fiction. I was reading and enjoying his short stories and Asimov’s everything when I first got past regular kids’ books (around first grade).

    If you read Fahrenheit 451 or even his latest commentary, I don’t think he’s at all anti-technology. What he objects to is the seemingly mindless vacuity of staring at a TV/PC/video game machine or being plugged into audio players. That was a major message in Fahrenheit 451. While I think there are a lot of advantages to the information we have at our fingertips, there’s something to be said for the idea that we’re wasting a shitload of our lives doing very little. Like commenting on other people’s comments on a blog.

    That said, he does sound a bit cranky in this latest comment, but I doubt seriously that he’s all that opposed to technology. Just too much of certain uses of it. And I share his frustration with our inability to colonize space.

    1. I’ll be the first to admit that one is more likely to have one’s imagination and thought processes triggered by a book than by a video game or movie, but even the most voracious readers choose to read stuff that placates them rather than educates them or challenges them to think or imagine.

  28. Brick Wahl !?!

    1. I know, right? I had the same thought.

      Is that like Seymour Butz? Or Mike Easter?

  29. Of course we’ll live forever once we get to Mars. This is precisely what happened in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series.

  30. Only they who fulfill their duties in everyday matters will fulfill them on great occasions.

  31. Anyone can make you smile. Many people can make you cry. But it takes someone really special to make you smile with tears in your eyes

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