And I’m not talking rain.
I’m talking books in general, and Ray Bradbury specifically. As a child, I remember watching the cheesy Sci-Fi channel at my granny’s house. Inevitably, an astronaut’s helmet cracked, an alien injected humans with a thing, or a rocket crashed into a harsh and unforgiving landscape.
On the surface, many of Ray Bradbury’s stories share a similar fate with those 1970’s science fiction movies. Plucky characters valiantly fight the evil martian, proving the perseverance of humans and our unending desire to live.
And yet, when you ask three people the meaning of a Bradbury story, you will likely get three different answers. Ask more, and the interpretations are endless. I know because I’ve dissected and discussed Bradbury since high school, throughout my honor’s classes in college, and into the present as a speech coach.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that Bradbury’s writing has at least three distinct levels. One is all about entertainment. Humans hurtling through the stars in crippled rocket ships, landing on inhospitable planets only to face epic, inter-species battles. It’s cheesy sci-fi movies in word form.
The second layer plunges characters into a personal battle with themselves. Mental health vs fragility. Reality vs imagination. Fight, flight or freeze?
It isn’t until we scratch our way past the dirt and grime that we find a third, deeply disturbing level of social commentary that looks eerily like prophecy. Mankind vs the dire reality of our science and technology catapulting us into the throes of dystopia.
And that’s where the prophecy part of this comes in. You see, Bradbury wrote way ahead of his time. Before man walked on the moon, he wrote about it. He speculated about the stars and our need to reach them, just as we had reached outward from our humble beginnings and crossed the sea to conquer foreign lands.
In a way, his writing is almost like history repeating itself, but on a galactic level. The future and the past colliding seamlessly. Hand-print pictographs on space-ship walls.
Some books are worth a second or third read with intervening years between. The more life we experience, the deeper we can dive into the meaning of a book.
In the meantime, stay dry and keep reading~ jody