Saturday, January 3, 2009
A Visit to Bradburyville
Location: Bradburyville Region
I am a sucker for anything literary-themed. So when I landed at this interactive museum in honor of the science-fiction writer, I had pretty high hopes. It is:
"A Celebration of the work of Ray Bradbury. Visit a walk-in book, a carnival from "Something Wicked this way comes," the Bradbury theater, and multimedia museum"
The simulations were created by the Librarians of SL, a group of "InfoIsland Archipelago library volunteers made up of librarians, library staff, library students, educators, and other interested parties. Our librarians come from all around the globe and from all types of libraries."
Much of the site looks static, at least at first glance. I strolled first to Sam's Hot Dogs, from The Martian Chronicles. I found more than a hot-dog stand. The site, like several others themed to particular books, provides weblinks about the book. Since this is vetted by librarians, I'd have no hesitation sending my students to the site for research.
The builders took particular care with the exhibits dedicated to Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451.
I began with the former novel and the simulation of the Grand Carousel. I don't believe in looking backward too much, so I picked "forward." Unfortunately, the Grand Carousel did not seem to want to work that night. I did not leave it a doddering old man.
Next I visited a tent with information about both the book and film. I loved the performances by Jonathan Pryce and Jason Robards in the film version of Something Wicked, so I was pleased to see that the Librarians had included a pavilion with information about both print and cinematic versions of the work.
The representations of the covers of different versions of the book caught my eye, because I obsess over book-jackets. There were a few standout examples that I'd love to own. They capture the creative spirit of fantasy and SF covers of the 60s and early 70s, before more realistic artwork (often with large-breasted women) became the norm.
I gave up on the Ferris Wheel, which also did not want to work that night. The gem of all this Bradbury-mania was The Ray Bradbury Museum. It features video-interviews with the author, a slide-show of memorable quotations, and many photos of Bradbury and the covers of his books.
Walking about, in the Hall of Mirrors I wonder what Bradbury would think of this virtual world.
He seems, from the video clips, to have been a big kid who enjoyed sending his grandchildren into his basement where he wrote. In one clip he notes that it is always Halloween there, and the props would enchant any child: a copy of the Disney version of Nemo's Nautilus, two Godzilla action figures, and more books than one could imagine: the raw material of dreams.
I saved the Fahrenheit 451 walk-through for last. Like the book, this part actually unnerved me. Leave it up to librarians to scare the hell out of you about a world where books would be burned. By following the directions, I ended up trapped in a fire station with a robotic dog and a book-burning fireman.
I could not get out. I actually got up for a real-life drink and did not see what happened to Iggy. When I finished my drink, he'd returned to the surface of Bradburyville. I was thankful that, at least for now, we've kept the book-burners at bay. I'll close with Bradbury's own words. They could well describe the sensibilities of those who loathe SL and those who become addicted to its halls of mirrors.