Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On The Passing Of Ray Bradbury: A Response To Jonathan Kay

I'm trying to find adequate words to describe my feelings at the passing of one of science-fiction’s, no, of literature’s great voices. I never read a lot of Mr. Bradbury’s work, but it’s impossible to be interested in imaginative literature and not have at least an inkling of it and the ideas he expressed, as I’m sure more than a few authors have been influenced by what he wrote, even if only second-hand. Even I’ve been influenced by it, as I remember watching a version of The Veldt, I think for the Canadian-produced The Ray Bradbury Theater, in one of my English classes and enjoying it immensely. (And no, I don’t have any specific memories of wanting my parents dead, why do you ask?)

So, while Mr. Bradbury’s passing is not a personal tragedy, I would like to express my condolences to his family in this difficult time and say that he touched a lot of people’s lives, even if only remotely.

What I don’t want to do is defecate upon his memory as Mr. Jonathan Kay has.

In this article, Mr. Kay describes Bradbury as “science-fiction’s most depressing prophet” and then proceeds to say the author ruined science-fiction for him.

Wow. What an asshat.

First off, to blame anyone for ruining a whole genre of fiction for you is just pure and utter nonsense. To blame someone who just died and therefore cannot respond directly to your asshattery is at the very least cowardly.

This is especially true in Kay’s case, as in the article he even admits to reading writing similar to Bradbury’s later on in life, and never once states he was forced to read it. It’s really hard to feel sympathy for someone who admits to self-flagellation. If Kay hated “optimism-crippling” literature so much, why did he continue to read it? Why didn’t he look for something influenced by Star Trek, say something by Robert Sawyer?

More importantly, why did he let Ray Bradbury’s writing make him feel stupid for wanting optimistic science-fiction? This would indicate that Kay is either weak-minded or weak-willed. Maybe it’s a good thing that Fahrenheit 451 (please note Mr. Kay, this is the correct spelling) ruined TV for him, otherwise Mr. Kay might have to be weaned off late-night infomercials.

Okay, I’ve taken enough pot-shots are Mr. Kay, so now I propose we find a way to help him ease back into science-fiction. Since he seems to be hung up on the depressing side of things I recommend a rigorous course of Babylon Five. Sure, it’s dark and depressing, but in the end it has a core of hope that we can do better and grow. It might be just the cure Mr. Kay needs. (Unless pharmaceuticals and extensive therapy would work better, but I’d recommend those be saved for people with real issues that need to be addressed.)


  1. One would think if a person writes an article in the National Post regarding a book, they would make sure it is spelled correctly. Which is the first thing, of many wrong with that article. And I'm not sure how the book ruined TV for him, since the book is about censorship, book banning and dangerous of government control.

  2. Indeed. The whole article felt like the cheapest of cheap shots to me, and it was in extremely bad taste.