Bradbury Daily: “The Murderer”

I love this story. It’s just fantastic.

It’s not actually about a murderer. Not in the traditional sense. It’s another story set in the future, where everyone is consumed at all times by technology — a never-ending stream of music, wrist radios that function much the same way our cell phones do, all sorts of technology. Our “murderer” got fed up and started trashing tech, which is apparently a crime, even though the vast majority of what he broke was his own technology — the only thing, I believe, that affected others (before he was jailed) was his disruption of their tech on a bus, in much the same way that an EMP works in movies.

I have to admire how Bradbury made the man sound the way a crazed serial killer might, even though he wasn’t even talking about killing people. It’s kind of hilarious, but it’s also scary how similar it is to depictions of serial killers.

I also have to note, of course, that this is another example of Bradbury’s visions of the future, where technology has taken over everyone’s lives. While “There Will Come Soft Rains” dealt with the idea of fully automated homes, “The Veldt” tackled the dangers of obsession and parental neglect with regards to technology, and Fahrenheit 451 dealt with technology taking over as a dangerously addictive form of entertainment (aside from the terrifying censorship, but we’ll get to that when I review the book later), “The Murderer” actually hits closest to home. It’s pretty scary how close this world is to the one we live in today, with people in constant contact with one another via cell phones, constant stimulation from various forms of technology at pretty much all times; decades ago Bradbury predicted what was coming.

If the stories showing the negative sides of technology reflect Bradbury’s own views about technology, I have to wonder how he would react to today’s world. Would he praise the ready availability of information, or would he decry the constant need to be plugged in and interacting with some form of technology? Would he look around and see the potential, more than ever, for the dystopian futures of his stories to come into reality?

Ultimately I think it’s a powerful testament to Bradbury that even decades later, these stories are still relevant — perhaps even more now than when they were originally written and published.

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