Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


June 11, 2012

Tidbits: Take a fantastic voyage with Ray Bradbury

CROSSVILLE — Last week, a voice of great imagination and purpose was silenced after 91 years. Ray Bradbury, author of more than 500 short stories, novels, plays, television series and films, passed away late June 5.

Though he suffered a stroke in 1999, Bradbury continued to work on his craft, writing every day in the basement of his Los Angeles home. His work spanned genres, though much of his work was fantasy. He resisted the science fiction stamp on his work, noting he didn't apply reality to his writing. He helped to bring the genre out of the magazines and into the libraries, which was where he spent much of his time, reading the works of others and penning his own.

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled," Bradbury said. "The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."

That's what he did, taking all the dreams and imaginations of his youth, adding some fantastic plot twists and turns. His first book, The Martian Chronicles, weaved tales of colonists fleeing Earth and the conflicts with their new Martian neighbors. It's not a novel, Bradbury said. It's a "book of stories pretending to be a novel." That made it perfect for adaptation to radio, television and even comic books.

I came to know Bradbury later in life, somehow missing him growing up. His books weren't required reading in my schools and I didn't see him among the books on the shelves at home. Fortunately, someone loaned me a copy of Fahrenheit 451 a few months before I graduated from college. I marveled that someone who adored reading and books and libraries, such as myself, could have missed this classic for so many years, and I lobbied that my journalism professors add it to the curriculum in a class or two.

While not about journalism, it is about censorship and the dangers that come with not protecting our right to read and learn about new ideas and philosophies, whether or not we agree with them.

Written in 1953, Bradbury set his cautionary tale in a future populated by people who look to their wall-size televisions for pointless entertainment and tune out with Seashell Radios on their ears. Firemen no longer put out fires, but start them, burning books that have been deemed objectionable.

In this world, some sinister force didn't come to power and declare books public enemy no. 1. People just stopped caring and stopped reading. When they stopped paying attention, those in power saw the chance to start censoring ideas and speech. Those who love books have become outlaws and renegades, memorizing portions of great books in order to keep them from being forever lost.

Bradbury was a believer in books, even before he began writing his own on typewriters rented for 10 cents a half hour. He said he wasn't able to go to college, so he completed his education by going to the library and reading everything he could.

He saw the American love affair with technology begin, and saw that it could have disastrous consequences, with people turning to their computers and gadgets instead of each other for camaraderie and comfort. Those Seashell Radios, which were nothing but a figment of his imagination in 1953, became our personal radios and earphones. Those wall-sized TVs are today's home theater systems that can take up an entire wall with a flat-screen TV. "I don't try to describe the future," he once said. "I try to prevent it." 

He resisted the move toward digital books and replacing human interaction with digital news feeds from friends. He said electronic books "smell like burned fuel" and told the New York Times the Internet was "a big distraction."

He's not wrong. The Internet, while a valuable tool for increasing knowledge and sharing ideas, is littered with sites that do nothing but suck away precious time. And e-books? I prefer my books to be the paper and print kind.

But Bradbury and I were a growing minority and, last year, he agreed to allow Fahrenheit 451 to be released in digital format. I guess he decided that the ideas were more important than the form that people used to receive them.

"There are worse crimes than burning books," he once said. "One of them is not reading them."

Now, a whole new generation can curl up with their e-book and enjoy a fantastic journey with Bradbury leading the expedition. Happy reading!

• • •

Heather Mullinix is the assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at


Text Only
  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014