Friday, March 19, 2010

The Hugos: Fahrenheit 451

Um, sorry, folks. I swear it wasn't censorship. I just happened to forget to review the Hugo winning novel of 1954, Fahrenheit 451. Just file this in your individual libraries of Alexandria wedged between my February reviews of 'The Demolished Man(1953)' and 'They'd Rather Be Right(1955)'.
Or, if you're a Bradbury Fireman, burn the review and go back to watching TV.
Oh, now I'm just being whimsical. You can't burn computer data! Sheesh!
You may have noticed that I like 1950's SF. Four stars here and 3 stars there, all willy-nilly.
So here's a shocker: this one only got 2 stars out of 4.
And... (sigh) here's why. First, there's my enormous irrational contempt for classics. Does this book deserve the Hugo? Yes. Did the same year yield 'The Caves of Steel' by Asimov and 'Childhood's End' by Clarke, both FUNNER by a factor of four? Yes.
But F451 is a classic because its heavy-handed message is just as if not MORE important today: books are VERY damn important. And how can I not approve of that?
Second, Ray Bradbury. Sigh. I'm aware of his work. I've grudgingly sailed down the rivers of dandelion wine in 'The Martian Chronicles'. Boy, do I wish John Carter or Dejah Thoris had been there! So, not a big fan. But then again, I've barely touched Bradbury's stuff. So what do I know? (And one of those stars is for 'A Sound of Thunder', which was pretty awesome.)
Third, I just don't like any of the characters. Montag is a flatlined jerk, his boss is a two-faced ass, Montag's wife is a suicidal wreck and his potential mistress is disappeared before her perky optimism can get anybody interested in the proceedings.
Francois Truffaut (and I can actually feel myself slipping into a coma as I say his name) adapted this book into a movie in 1966, it's a fine adaptation in that it's monumentally dull, but the final shot IS extremely memorable, it's every inch a classic just like the book, and it was Hugo nominated also. You know what won instead? A classic in MY favorite sense of the word: Star Trek's 'The Menagerie'. You know: the one with the green dancing girl and the ape fights! Gotta love that cerebral stuff.

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