So I’m currently reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which is a weird experience for a few reasons. First of all, as I explained over on The Reading List, Fahrenheit 451 didn’t technically win the Hugo Award in 1954. It would have been eligible that year, but there were no Hugo Awards in 1954, a curious gap right at the beginning of the award’s history. It was, however, one of the books to retroactively win the Hugo, selected for that honor in 2004.
That’s not the only reason I’m reading it, though. It’s the only retro Hugo winner on the list, and that’s not going to change. I already have enough sci-fi to keep this blog going for a very, very long time, and I don’t really have any desire to read The Sword in the Stone, or yet another Heinlein novel, or anything by A.E. van Vogt. That isn’t to say these books aren’t worth reading, but they’re not compelling enough to me, personally, to merit expanding an already massive undertaking.
Fahrenheit is different, though, because of my childhood connections to Ray Bradbury. I won’t go so far as to say I was a Bradbury fanatic as a kid – I was well above the reading level for my age, but a lot of his stuff was still over my head, and I never had the all-consuming passion to consume everything he’d ever written like I did for young adult authors like Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville – but the Bradbury I did read stuck with me for a long time. The Martian Chronicles, A Sound of Thunder, and most of all, Something Wicked This Way Comes, were stories that resonated with me into adulthood, which is something I can’t quite say for My Teacher is an Alien. I still remember how disconcerted A Sound of Thunder left me, and how drawn I was to the “good vs. evil” themes of Something Wicked. It’s been years since I read or re-read Bradbury, but looking back, he was an enormous influence on the type of fiction I would enjoy throughout my lifetime.