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Books books books

Continuing my weirdy dystopia trend, I just finished Fahrenheit 451 which someone had recommended to me, and lazenich got me for my birthday. To put it very simply, it's about a world in which books have been entirely banned (along with most of the free thought associated with them.) Firemen exist not to put out fires (houses and buildings have long been 'fireproofed') but instead to burn books they find, and to arrest those who own them.

Not really sure what I make of Bradbury's turn of phrase, to be honest. I love elaborate purple prose, but sometimes it was just too silly. One paragraph could be half a page long. :P The story itself was neat, even if the ending seemed a little... easy and quick for me and left me wanting way more than I was offered.

The best thing about it for me was the existence of the 'Mechanical Hound'. It was a really great, creepy concept. I'll copypasta Wikipedia -

It is an emotionless, eight-legged killing machine that can be programmed to seek out and destroy free thinkers, hunting them down by scent. It can remember as many as 10,000 scents at a time. The hound is blind to anything but the destruction for which it is programmed. It has a proboscis in a sheath on its snout, which injects lethal amounts of procaine. Bradbury notes in his afterword that the hound is "my robot clone of A. Conan Doyle's great Baskerville beast", referring to the famous Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles.

I REALLY want to draw this thing. It had glowing green eyes and was constantly described as 'not alive and not dead'... really awesome idea, a mechanical beast that hunts out those who deviate at all from whatever's accepted as 'right'.

While I'm under a cut tag, I will say that yeah, the ending was a real letdown. After spending the whole book questioning himself and his existence, the validity of books, he ends up running away, finding a random group of literary visionary travellers we only just heard about a few pages previously, and then bam, war breaks out and the city is flattened and suddenly they can start fresh, with the newfound ability to share knowledge the travellers have been storing in their heads.

I LOVE some of the things he says in his afterwards, and it pretty much won me over despite the few flaws in the book. Like this:

There remains only to mention a prediction that my Fire Chief, Beatty, made in 1953, halfway through my book. It had to do with books being burned without matches or fire. Because you don't have to burn books, do you, if the world starts to fill up with non-readrs, non-learners, non-knowers? If the world widescreen basketballs and footballs itself to drown in MTV, no Beatty's are needed to ignite the kerosene or hunt the reader. If the primary grades suffer meltdown and vanish through the cracks and ventilators of the school room, who, afer a while, will know or care?

Anyway, onto Yevgeny Zamyatin's 'We' or one of my Philip K. Dick's or... heh, John Green for a bit of variety.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 1st, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
I love Bradbury, though I've never read 451. I did just hear there's a graphic novel (abridged) interpretation that's pretty interesting.
Aug. 2nd, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
Huh, I don't remember that ending. Although, I haven't read it since middle school and may be mixing the movie up with the book. The movie, BTW, is awesome, and I 'd recommend you watch it. IIRC, it doesn't end with the city falling, but with the rebels just existing out of society. It ends with hope.

I personally prefer Bradbury's short stories over his novels. This Martian Saga is a thing of beauty.

If you're still looking for good dystopian and/or post-apocalypse books, I just read a good one called The Forrest of Hands and Teeth. Then there's some classics like Alas, Babylon or Anthem (the only Ann Ryand book I could ever finish). It's one of my favorite genres, I'm sure I'll think of more.

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