Who Was Afraid of Ray Bradbury & Science Fiction? The FBI, It Turns Out (1959)

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When you think of the most astute minds of our time, you might well think of Ray Brad­bury’s — but you prob­a­bly don’t think of him as one of the most astute ter­ror­ist minds of our time. The Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion, how­ev­er, saw things dif­fer­ent­ly. Col­lab­o­ra­tive news site Muck­Rock found that out through files “released to for­mer Muck­Rock­er Inkoo Kang [which] doc­u­ment the decade the Bureau spent try­ing to deter­mine if Brad­bury was, if not a card-car­ry­ing Com­mu­nist, at least a sym­pa­thet­ic ‘fel­low trav­el­er.’ ” See snip­pets of doc­u­ments here from 1959.


You can view the files them­selves, obtained under the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act, at Muck­Rock. There, the site’s JPat Brown also sum­ma­rizes the orga­ni­za­tion’s basis for sus­pi­cion against the author: his “mem­ber­ship in the Screen Writer’s Guild, as well as his vocal oppo­si­tion to McCarthy­ism, drew par­tic­u­lar atten­tion,” as did the use in The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles of the “repeat­ed theme that earth­men are despoil­ers and not devel­op­ers.” Not just Brad­bury’s work but the whole of sci­ence fic­tion, which infor­mant Mar­tin Berke­ley calls a pos­si­bly “lucra­tive field for the intro­duc­tion of Com­mu­nist ide­ol­o­gy,” comes in for an indict­ment.


“Com­mu­nists have found fer­tile oppor­tu­ni­ties for devel­op­ment,” Berke­ley says, “for spread­ing dis­trust and lack of con­fi­dence in Amer­i­ca [sic] insti­tu­tions in the area of Sci­ence Fic­tion writ­ing.” Anoth­er, unsur­pris­ing­ly clear­er view of the genre comes from Brad­bury him­self, quot­ed dis­ap­prov­ing­ly in the file from a 1959 Wom­en’s Leg­isla­tive Action Bul­letin. There, he said he uses the medi­um of sci­ence fic­tion to “try to bring to light some of the cur­rent fal­lac­i­es in human val­ues today” — the one thing, as the author of Fahren­heit 451 must have known full well, that the pow­ers that be least want any­body to do. Get more at Muck­Rock.


via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ray Brad­bury: “I Am Not Afraid of Robots. I Am Afraid of Peo­ple” (1974)

Ray Brad­bury: Lit­er­a­ture is the Safe­ty Valve of Civ­i­liza­tion

Sovi­et Ani­ma­tions of Ray Brad­bury Sto­ries: ‘Here There Be Tygers’ & ‘There Will Comes Soft Rain’

FBI’s “Vault” Web Site Reveals Declas­si­fied Files on Hem­ing­way, Ein­stein, Mar­i­lyn & Oth­er Icons

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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