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Listen To Leonard Nimoy Read A Selection Of Ray Bradbury Stories

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Ray BradburyIf you’re like us, you miss bedtime stories. Watching TV until you fall asleep is all well and good, but neither that nor reading to yourself really cuts it when it comes to this arena. Audiobooks are about as close as we’ve get to this, and while it’s always nice to hear the soothing, dulcet tones of the readers, it’s so much more awesome when the action is narrated by some random celebrity. And in that spirit, we recently came across a stockpile of Ray Bradbury short stories as read by none other than Leonard Nimoy. That’s right, Spock is here to read you an awesome sci-fi bedtime story (you don’t have to listen to them while heading off to nappy time, but you can bet this combo will lead to some crazy ass dreams).

These stories come from Bradbury’s vaunted collections The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. In the mid-1970s, these two sci-fi icons got together, and the result was a pair of records, each with two stories from each book—one on each side of the album—that combine these two distinct and beloved voices from the genre.

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Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles Blends Sci-fi And Social Commentary

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Full disclosure: Ray Bradbury is my hero. I sent him a long letter (an essay, really), and he sent me back an adorable signed graphic. I read him, I teach him, and I write about him. And while I like some of his works better than others, I’m hard-pressed to think of any Ray Bradbury work I don’t enjoy. Most people know him for Fahrenheit 451, an iconic piece that addresses censorship, sure, but also the foibles of humanity when it embraces misguided ideas and technologies. But as amazing as Fahrenheit 451 is, I think there are some Bradbury works that are even better. The Martian Chronicles is one of those works.

martian-chronicles

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Scientists Reveal Their Favorite Works Of Science Fiction

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Here at GFR we cover anything that fits under the umbrella of our twin loves: science and science fiction. And just as the bleeding edge of our scientific understanding is forever pushing the boundaries of our science fiction, SF is itself inspiring fans to take transform their love of starships, robots, and the like into careers in real scientific fields. So what are some of the science fiction movies, shows, and books that real-life scientists love best? The Huffington Post recently asked a handful of scientists precisely that.

PermutationCityDr. Max Tegmark is a cosmologist and physics professor at MIT, and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which provides grants to “catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology.” Tegmark cites Greg Egan’s 1994 science fiction novel Permutation City as his favorite, explaining that Egan’s “explorations of the ultimate nature of reality blew my mind and inspired my own research.”

Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of books including The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here. He lists another semi-obscure work you might want to add to your Kindle: Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Carroll says, “It’s a story about life on the surface of a neutron star, which would ordinarily be considered completely outlandish. A good reminder that ‘life’ might take on very different forms than we ordinarily imagine. Here’s the Dragon’s Egg synopsis from Amazon:

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On Ray Bradbury’s Birthday We Take Issue With Fahrenheit 451’s Anti-Technology Message

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Today, August 22, is Ray Bradbury’s birthday. I can’t think of a better time to revisit Bradbury’s most famous work, Fahrenheit 451.

For me the most intriguing thing about Fahrenheit 451 is that it’s what I’d call an adolescent dreamer’s story. By that I mean the book is something that young teens read, and then latch onto the perceived surface ideals. It feeds the notion that those in charge are trying to tell you what to think, and if you’re not careful some time in the near future state sponsored censorship will become the norm. It’s the same mentality of those who erroneously think Catcher in the Rye is about a kid who bucked the system. The irony in both cases is that we, the young teens reading these stories, are the phonies.

Released in the early 50’s, when television was first starting to become significant, 451 was oddly prescient and pessimistic about what TV had to offer society. What I’ve never understood is the way in which so many people claim to love the anti-censorship message of the story, but fail to notice it’s we TV watchers who are the villains. Society, by turning from the printed word towards television, brought about the dystopian world of book burning firemen. Guy didn’t hide books to stick it to the state; he hid them because they offered the power of knowledge.

The idea that television, or the internet for that matter, will someday turn mankind into oblivious automatons is short sighted. The kid walking down the street texting on his cell phone is not a capricious youth; he’s just connected to his network of friends in a new way, a way that is misunderstood by the elder generation. This is not a bad thing, it’s just new. Those who brag that they don’t have a TV because they don’t see the value in it, are not as impressive as they seem. There’s nothing to gain by willfully ignoring an avenue for gaining knowledge based on unfounded bias.