It’s a funny irony that some sci-fi personalities have been anti-technology throughout their lives.
The late Ray Bradbury immediately comes to mind, even though he’s the big daddy of sci-fi, and one of the most important writers of the 20th century.
Then again, the guy never drove, he didn’t ride on an airplane until he was in his sixties, and he also didn’t want his work coming out in cyberspace. Bradbury was skeptical about technology, the dangers of technology is of course the preoccupation of a lot of sci-fi, and he reportedly called the internet a “big distraction.”
Still, we can only fight technology for so long, and sixteen Bradbury greats will finally be available digitally. As mediabistro.com reports, Bradbury’s daughter Alexandra said in a statement, “The entire Bradbury family is excited to know that Dad’s work will finally be available to all readers: traditional print readers and the new generation of digital readers…We’re especially pleased that digital editions of Bradbury books will be available through libraries as well as e-retailers, as Ray Bradbury was an ardent supporter of our great public library system.”
Titles that are already available include Bradbury Speaks, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, and on April 30 we’ll see the release of The Illustrated Man, Quicker Than the Eye, and The Cat’s Pajamas, among other titles.
Thankfully paper books are still selling more than eBooks for now, although who knows how much longer we’ll have bookstores at this point. But whatever the future holds, for now Bradbury’s legacy is still largely on paper. (There are reportedly over eight million Bradbury books in print, and there’s no way eBooks are going to pass that up any time soon).)
One of my favorite Stephen King stories was when somebody once asked him how he felt about Hollywood “ruining” his books. This was after the movie adaptation of The Shining, which he still hates to this day. But King said Hollywood didn’t ruin his books, they’re on the shelves behind him, and you can still read them if you want. This is also how I feel about Bradbury’s work being out in digital form. It’s not going to change one comma of Bradbury’s classics, it will just make it available in another format.
Perhaps Bradbury felt the same way a lot of filmmakers did when the VCR revolution happened. A print of a movie comes on several reels, it was heavy to lug around, it cost a lot of money to dupe a copy, and it took effort to thread through a projector. Then they saw their work reduced down to a cassette or a disc you could put in your pocket. (Not to mention that now we don’t even have film anymore).
But no matter how Bradbury’s work is read and enjoyed, the format will never take away his brilliance, or his importance in literature. Still, wherever Bradbury is right now, (I can imagine his spirit on Mars actually), he must be smiling that paper books are still alive and well, and that most readers still prefer to feel his work in their hands, physically turning the pages and diving into the paper and ink with joy.