We lost a titan of the genre this week as Ray Bradbury traveled beyond the Rim at the age of 91. Most of us have encountered Bradbury through his novels or short stories, but the writer’s career stretched into some surprising areas you might not know about. For instance, Bradbury served as a consultant on projects such as the 1964 World’s Fair in New York and Epcot’s Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World. Now an anonymous Bradbury fan has helped mark the author’s passing by sending a copy of Bradbury’s original 1977 Spaceship Earth concept script to Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing. You can read a PDF of the full script right here, and here’s a sample from the script’s opening:
Where did we come from? Some of this we know.
Where are we going? Some of this we dream.
How do we get there? Let me chart the ways.
The Future has many arts, many sciences, many paths, many doors.
Spaceship Earth is Epcot’s iconic spherical structure, which borrows its name from the term coined by Buckminster Fuller to describe “his philosophy of every individual’s importance to the functioning of the planet.” Bradbury helped design the structure and write the original storyline for the attraction. Why did such a noted author pitch in for a theme park attraction? His introduction to the script makes clear that Bradbury viewed the project as more than just an entertaining time-killer. Here’s how he described it:
It is an optimistic statement: It presupposes that man’s continuing dynamic is survival…recognizes the enormous challenges to this dynamic…and concludes strongly that creative men and women of the world can create a viable and dynamic “instruction book for Spaceship Earth”.
It’s the sort of optimistic futurism that’s all too rare these days, and it’s just one more reason to mourn the passing of Ray Bradbury. In an age where the thought of mankind growing and prospering and moving on beyond our home world often seems unlikely, it’s refreshing to look back at the words of somebody who thought we could be better than we are. Next time you see a shot of Spaceship Earth, maybe it won’t look like just another landmark. Maybe it’ll look like a challenge, to all of us, to do better.
Photograph by Katie Rommel-Esham