The great science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury was investigated by the FBI, according to a story on the Huffington Post. Apparently, at least one person was worried that Mr. Bradbury’s fiction might dampen Americans’s enthusiasm for war. Or something. And that was enough for the FBI to open a file on him:
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.”
At first I thought this sounded crazy– how could Ray Bradbury be a Communist? This is a guy who was a major influence on modern shopping malls, for crying out loud. Then I started looking over his oeuvre, and I could kind of see where they might be alarmed. Some of his stuff was really, really subversive:
The Martian Chronicles: Stories set on the “red” (“Communist”) planet.
Dandelion Wine: Stories about his childhood, aimed at children. Obviously intended to encourage children to drink wine.
Something Wicked This Way Comes: An obvious attempt to undermine Americans’s interest in traveling carnivals.
Bradbury wrote at least 500 short stories and novels. Over such a long career, it would be possible for anyone who really wanted to find something “subversive” to do so. The irony is that the FBI apparently gave up its investigation because of what is probably Bradbury’s most “subversive” work:
The bureau also must have realized it was barking up the wrong tree when it was told about Bradbury’s appearance at the La Positino Coffeehouse in Malibu on April 19, 1959, where he talked about how his short story, “The Fireman,” (the precursor to “Fahrenheit 451”) was banned by the Russian government since they felt it “slandered their type of government as well as many other countries.”
Yes, the FBI closed its file on Bradbury after hearing about his story of a civilization in which citizens inform on each other. Makes as much sense as opening the file in the first place.
Source: Huffington Post
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