Ray Bradbury, a soulful romantic and ardent lover of American civil liberties, was one of the most celebrated American writers of the 20th century.
Perhaps best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, one of the earliest and most deserving works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, and the many film and TV versions of his stories and novels, Bradbury continues to rank high in the pantheon of the greatest short-story writers and leading golden-age sci-fi/fantasy authors.
Yet, how long might his well-deserved reputation as a storyteller last amid the dismaying anti-liberal and authoritarian worldwide trends of the early 21st century?
A just-published essay in The Spectator, a British weekly magazine on politics, culture and current affairs, asks that worrisome question – while also making a powerful case for Bradbury as an enduring writer and champion of liberty.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series offers review-essays of past award-winners that make clear why each deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work. Here’s an appreciation for writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, the 2006 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”– V for Vendetta
By Michael Grossberg V for Vendetta dramatizes and illustrates a horrific cautionary tale about the loss of freedom and identity itself in a chilling totalitarian future.
The 1989 graphic novel, created by British writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd, has been widely acclaimed as a defining work within the medium of comics and the emerging art of graphic novels – and deservedly so.
Like some of the best dystopian novels, this vivid fusion of word and image chronicles the debilitating and soul-crushing impact of living in an authoritarian police state. That’s a nightmare that few understand who haven’t experienced it, but V for Vendetta makes it palpable.
Happily, V for Vendetta isn’t just harrowing but also inspiring – for it also highlights the power of the human spirit to resist tyranny. The graphic novel earns our sympathy for a few valiant if damaged souls who find the courage to rebel against the excesses and norms of truly unlimited government.
If you haven’t browsed through back issues of Prometheus, you should.
You’re missing out on a lot of fascinating and insightful stuff – with ideas and insights that often remain timely and surprisingly timeless.
A treasure trove of articles, essays, reviews, interviews, debates, acceptance speeches, con reports and letters was published between 1982 and 2016 in Prometheus, the journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society. (The Prometheus blog, launched in 2017, replaced the printed quarterly.)
The Prometheus page of the LFS website is being updated and made more accessible – thanks to the efforts of Chris Hibbert, Anders Monsen and other past Prometheus editors.
In an ongoing effort, Hibbert and other veteran LFS leaders have been volunteering their time to steadily digitize the Prometheus back issues. Most are now available to read free, either with direct HTML links to each article or with a PDF link to the entire issue.
Check out all the back issues and articles on the Prometheus Index page.
WORLDCON SF AUTHORS ON LIBERTY, LIBERALISM AND LIBERTARIANISM
To whet your appetite, here is a fascinating and still-relevant excerpt from one of the earliest Worldcon reports ever published in Prometheus, which sheds light on sf, liberty and the complex relationship between libertarianism and liberalism.
To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ diverse four-decade history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as notable pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian and dystopian sf/fantasy, the Libertarian Futurist Society has been publishing since 2019 a weekly series of Appreciations of past award-winners, beginning with the first category for Best Novel and now focusing on the Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction.
Here is an Appreciation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the other 1984 Prometheus Hall of Fame co-winner for Best Classic Fiction.
By Michael Grossberg
One of the most widely admired classics of science fiction is Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury’s poignant 1953 novel makes an eloquent case (both libertarian and classical liberal) against censorship and book-burning as a blow not only to basic individual rights but as a devastating wound to history, memory and civilization itself.
Bradbury’s best-known novel offers an exemplary cautionary fable about an illiberal future society in which books are outlawed and burned to destroy them and any remnant of literacy, memory, deep culture and independent thinking.
Those who still love and read books become criminals, hunted down by “firemen” and at high risk of having their homes invaded, their books and houses burned and their lives destroyed by the omnipresent State.