Science fiction author Ray Bradbury died today at age 91. As one of my all-time favorite authors, I’m inspired to write about the incredible impact of his writing in my life – a post that will take considerably more time than I had today. So for now, here is a previously written post that I think now perfectly applies: Bradbury was a “library” of different places and worlds – from 1920s Illinois to the future to life on Mars.
A living library is a very cool idea. “It’s like reading a biography, but more interactive because you can talk to the person and ask them questions.”
Imagine talking with one of the few remaining World War 2 vets. I still remember when I was in high school and my parents had a family from church over for dinner one night. Mr. Harper had been a fighter pilot during the war, and told story after incredible story of his experiences. Reading online or in books is nothing like hearing it first-person. If Mr. Harper were in the living library, I’d borrow him again in a minute.
It makes me think of Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, which is made up of recorded stories from survivors of the Holocaust. Spielberg had the amazing foresight to record a “living library” that would preserve all those incredible stories beyond their individual lives.
It also reminds me of another way to consider these living stories – from an old Ray Bradbury book, Dandelion Wine. An excerpt from one story in particular (Section 10):
“The Civil War,” suggested John Huff quietly. “Does he remember that?”
“Do I remember?” said the colonel. “Oh, I do, I do! …”
“Antietam,” said John Huff. “Ask about Antietam.”
“I was there.”
The boys’ eyes grew bright. “Bull Run, ask him. Bull Run…”
“I was there.” Softly…
“Shiloh, then. Fort Sumter?”
“I saw the first puffs of powder smoke.” A dreaming voice. “So many things come back, oh, so many things.”
The boys sat for a long while without moving. Then Charlie turned and looked at Douglas and said, “Well, is he or isn’t he?”
Douglas breathed twice and said, “He sure is.”
“I sure am what?” [the colonel] asked.
“A Time Machine,” murmured Douglas. “A Time Machine.”
Just regular people with stories of times gone by, and lives we would otherwise never know anything about. We just have to take time to listen.