I recently re-read Fahrenheit 451 as part of my sci-fi project. The 60th anniversary edition features an introduction by Neil Gaiman, which is absolutely wonderful and worth reading just as much as the novel itself.
In it, Gaiman talks about reading, writing speculative fiction, and his thoughts on Fahrenheit 451, which he first discovered as a boy.
I’m so in love with his thoughts that I had to post about them.
His words echo my own thoughts about science fiction, that it places us in unfamiliar situations and acts as a mirror and a lens through which we can see ourselves.
This is one of the primary reasons I love this genre as well. By distorting our current reality, or by pushing it into the future, or both, we actually gain a clear view of our current path. It’s entertainment and philosophy all wrapped up in one.
On reading Gaiman writes,
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. The beauty of stories is that despite the authors’ intentions, they can be about so many different things to so many different people and by this very multitudinous trait, unite us.
On the need for stories, Gaiman writes,
This is so beautifully put. Books and stories are repositories of our humanity. Not just our human history, but our humanity. Everything that makes us us. All the good, the bad, and the in between as we try to pin down that just-out-of-reach thing that defines us. As we collect ourselves and then write them down and say, “Here you are. This is us.”
The loss of this is part of what Fahrenheit 451 is about. The characters are flat, not because of a lack of writing skill by Bradbury, but because they do not read or write or do anything out of the ordinary. They are flat people. In a way, this is absolutely terrifying, and one could read 451 as a horror story, full of un-feeling, soulless doppelgangers.
So there it is. Some beautiful words by Neil Gaiman that I felt compelled to reflect on.