This novel still has, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest opening sentences and paragraphs in print. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is the tale of a future where books are deemed to be too dangerous for public utilization, and therefore illegal. In this future world, firemen no longer extinguish flames, but rather they douse piles of parchment and binding in kerosene before setting them ablaze, effectively exterminating not only the physical objects themselves, but also the potentially subversive ideas contained therein. Published in 1953, but as fresh today as it has ever been, it follows the plight of fireman Montag as he discovers the power of the words he has been unquestioningly eradicating. Armed with that knowledge, he gets drawn into a resistance movement.
Half a century before they became realities, this visionary work predicted the rise and widespread deployment of security cameras, flat-screen televisions that cover a whole wall, and interactive reality TV. Bradbury’s imagination and heart were boundless and on display nowhere more than in Fahrenheit 451 – his best-known and best work. Let it be a primer for a further exploration of this prolific writer’s work.