The FBI Investigated Ray Bradbury

The bureau had heard the science fiction writer might be a Communist.


Marcus Baram reports:

Cervantes, on the other hand, was definitely a red.

Late science-fiction legend Ray Bradbury was actively investigated by the FBI during the 1960s for suspected Communist leanings, according to FBI files released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Huffington Post.

Bradbury aroused the suspicion of the FBI due to his outspoken criticism of the U.S. government and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which was investigating real and suspected communists in America. In a full-page ad in Variety, Bradbury had denounced the committee's probes as "claptrap and nonsense" and several informants in Hollywood also voiced their suspicions about the acclaimed writer to the bureau.

Bradbury's suspected activity was reported to the bureau by screenwriter Martin Berkeley, who claimed that science fiction writers were prone to being Communists and that the genre was uniquely capable of indoctrinating readers in Communist ideologies. "He noted that some of Bradbury's stories have been definitely slanted against the United States and its capitalistic form of government," according to the file.

A popular writer like Bradbury was positioned to "spread poison" about U.S. political institutions, Berkeley told the FBI. "Informant stated that the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe [sic] could not be won since their morale had been seriously destroyed."

After conducting some more interviews, the bureau decided it had no evidence that Bradbury had ever been a member of the Communist Party. And that's how America avoided World War III.

Elsewhere in Reason: Tributes to Bradbury by Peter Suderman, Brian Doherty, and Charles C. Johnson.

Elsewhere not in Reason: Junior G-man Martin Berkeley's IMDb page.