A Field Trip to See Ray Bradbury

By Sam Lee
Preface by Daniel Lambert, Department of English, East Los Angeles College: Sam Lee was a student in my English (Reading and Composition II) course at East Los Angeles College. As part of an extra credit project, he attended Ray Bradbury’s lecture to the Southwest Manuscripters in May of 2008. This essay represents Sam’s impressions of Mr. Bradbury’s speech.)

On a beautiful Friday evening, I went to attend the lecture of the great writer, Ray Bradbury, in the city of Torrance. He is a very old man now, but his speaking ability is still that of a man in his early twenties. During the event, Professor Dan Lambert introduced me to his writing club, the Southwest Manuscripters, and I found a lot of funny and kind people, such as the magician Jack Torrance. Bradbury sits in his wheelchair because he cannot move conveniently. Bradbury taught us that we should do as many things with love as possible, because he really wants us to give back to the community.
Bradbury spoke about his science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories, such as The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451. He finished Fahrenheit 451 in the basement of the library at the University of California, Los Angeles, because he wanted to get away from the distraction of his children. He paid a dime for half an hour of typewriter use in the basement of the library at UCLA. As Bradbury gets older and older, he has put more love into his stories, and has become a more emotional writer.
Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois in the year 1920. In 1934, he moved with his family to Los Angeles. Bradbury finished high school in 1938, but he did not keep going towards his education. Nevertheless, he used his time to sell newspapers on the street to make some money, and in the meantime, he started writing science fiction stories. In 1943, Bradbury started revealing his horror fiction in the magazine called Weird Tales. Bradbury said he could remember everything he did when he was young, and maybe that is why he is such a great writer!
Bradbury also writes and talks about humanity’s future life on Mars in his novel The Martian Chronicles. In the future presented in Bradbury’s fiction, people from Earth will move to Mars because human beings are very ugly animals. Human beings love to kill each other, and even use nuclear bombs. The people from Mars also grab some people from Earth for human experiments. Of course, the technology of Earth cannot compare with that of the Martians, so the human beings lose their war with the Martians. In the meantime, the Martians somehow get diseases from the human beings, so the Martians die out. Afterwards, a nuclear war destroys the earth, so a group of Earth people travel to Mars, and they become the new generation of Martians.
The Martians and the human beings from earth have a lot of conflicts with each other, so the Martians eventually kill the entire group which was sent by the human beings from Earth. The first three groups of human adventurers are all killed by the Martians, because they do not know how to communicate with each other. Since the disease was brought by the third group of human beings from Earth, the Martians became contaminated and were killed. A war on Earth follows and the Martian and Terran culture are destroyed.
The scenario presented in The Martian Chronicles seems very probable. After reading The Martian Chronicles, I began to speculate on mankind’s future, just as Bradbury did in the novel. Human beings have already killed each other for centuries. Maybe right now we do not have enough technology to emigrate to Mars to find peace. Nevertheless, even though we may someday have the technology to live on Mars, can we make sure that we will not have wars on Mars? No matter how many planets we can actually emigrate to for survival, as long as human beings want to kill each other, there will never be a peaceful land, and all the civilization that we created will be gone. We may be forced back to reality, since we do not have the space ships to carry the huge numbers of people, and we also do not have enough technology to live on Mars, because we still do not know how to create an environment that contains enough oxygen to ensure human survival. Maybe human beings need to be destroyed, because we do not know how to communicate with each other, and we need to show more respect towards each other. Global peace must occur. Otherwise, human beings will conduct a Third World War sooner or later, and it will be too late for all of us.
At the end of the lecture, I asked Bradbury what would be the next great invention in the future of humanity. Bradbury’s answer was not what I expected. He replied that wherever there is love, the great inventions and creations will be there. I respect Bradbury as one of the twentieth century’s truly magnificent writers. If I have a chance to attend his lecture next year, I will be more than happy to listen to his great speech.