Part 2: A Meeting of the Minds with Huxley, Wells, Verne, and Orwell
It is that day again, the meeting of the minds. Today, Huxley, Wells, Verne and Orwell have a visitor. Gabriel, the archangel in charge of such comings and goings, stood waiting to admit Ray Bradbury to the viewing room. Each participant is again granted language understanding, as the speakers in the eternal resting place belong to a privileged class of citizens. These occupants of the special arena wait as Gabriel draws open the curtain and the visitor enters. Gabriel shows Bradbury to his visitor’s chair and retreats.
Wells, the day’s host, opens: Greetings again, hail hearty, gentlemen. It is my pleasure to have a real youngster with us today, as Ray Bradbury has “loosed the surly bonds of earth,” so to speak, and joined us . He has some observations to make, but first he must acquaint us with his most noted work in our genre.
Bradbury: Sirs, it is my honor, and my pleasure, to have been allowed to sit among you and share your vantage point of the state of the universe, and I must say that what you have in the viewing space is a vision of turmoil. Is it always that busy, and so much like chaos?
Orwell: Welcome, Ray, and yes, the scene is much more agitated today, and has grown more and more so as the centuries have unfolded. However, the ebb and flow now seems different, increasing with the bursts of populations in the sectors that tend to create turmoil merely to create turmoil, to no useful or productive purpose for their people. We had hoped your more recent and youthful experiences below would be helpful to our understanding of the way of the world. How do you see things from this side?
Bradbury: Just the immensity of it all, first strikes me as utter chaos, and I am almost breathless at being here with all of you, so much you have viewed and learned. It is overwhelming, but I do begin to see some sense of order. The countries in the Middle East are much more populous than I had thought. My mind saw what used to be, not what is, and I must dwell on the areas that I knew best. Was it that way with all of you, at first?
Huxley, Verne, and Wells nod agreement and Verne signals for the first question. He also welcomes Bradbury and puts his question:
Verne: What is it that your most recent observation would offer us to the clearly visible? (he motions to the viewing window and the scene is fixed on the Middle East where smoke rose and spread over area after area.)
Bradbury: I see the constant struggle between two forces, begun as I was taught, almost with the birth of the little green and blue ball that became Earth. The turmoil there and the rising smoke is the result of weapons of war much more deadly than anything that Goliath or any other ancient giant could have dreamed of….but fire has always followed opposing armies, and led me to my best, and best known work, Fahrenheit 451, my only work in science fiction.
Orwell, leaning toward Bradbury: And did that come about as a result of some holocaust, such as the German or Japanese “adventures?”
Bradbury: No sir, it did not. The kernel of the idea came perhaps as an accident, and I am inclined to think that may have been from reading some, or almost all, of some of your gentlemen’s work, perhaps each of you had a role in it. Each of you, did in fact, go one way or another, into the minds of people who went beyond what was more or less ordinary thinking, into mindsets or scenarios that stepped outside that ordinary domain. Looking around I see Mr. Huxley, who went far beyond the “normal” of his day to what almost looks like the “normal” of the current day in America.
Huxley: I presume you are referring to Brave New World. It is all about mind control, and how having one’s mind has one’s obedience.
Bradbury: Indeed, Sir, that is exactly where you and I share a most vital part of civilization that must never be allowed to fall under the control of men, and women, whose main goal is to gain control of the collective minds of the people they control. Using that word, control, three times in one sentence stresses how important it is to destroy those men and women, or at least their power to carry out their desire to dominate.
Verne: Ray, I must interrupt to say that you only have a few more minutes, so please give us your summation of what we must learn from your futuristic vision.
Bradbury: Sir, and gentlemen, because those who would control at many times have seized the means to do so, one thing that must first be brought under their control is the ability of mankind to think for itself. If the mind can be changed or redirected, or simply wiped out nothing will move mankind to fight back, to continue to hold on to the greatness of freedom in a world in chains. And so the people in my novel have almost been totally brought to heel, so to speak, and an entire free world is to be forced to burn the books that have been valuable tools in building the free world which has been defeated. To save what was possible, and though the book would be forced into the fire, men and women memorized the most necessary ones to pass down by word of mouth, so that freedom could never be completely removed from the face of the earth. And, the point at which paper burns is 451degrees Fahrenheit. It must never be allowed to happen, and I thank you for having me here today.
Gabriel, enters, holding the door open, and gesturing for Ray Bradbury to leave. The viewing window fades to black.