Are We Living in a World Ray Bradbury Tried to Prevent?

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Imagine a society where truth and knowledge have no value, people are glued to their screens, and world war feels imminent. Or think of a place enraptured by the seductive promises of a carnival-hawker con man. Sound familiar? The first, of course, is the dystopia of Fahrenheit 451, the story of a firefighter charged with burning books in order to destroy knowledge. The second is the fictional Green Town, Illinois, the setting of Something Wicked This Way Comes, the story of a sinister traveling carnival leader and the young boys who thwart his plot to enslave their home. They are two of the most famous novels by one of the most brilliant and beloved science fiction writers of all time: Ray Bradbury. The author, who saw the dangers inherent to the modern world, used a variety of genres, including fantasy, horror, and science fiction, to illuminate pressing issues like censorship and xenophobia. Now, in honor of what would have been the longtime Angeleno’s 100th birthday, Zócalo is bringing together a panel of writers and scholars to discuss what Bradbury would make of 2020, and what his body of work can teach us in the current moment.