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Bradbury, Ray – “The Pedestrian” (1951)

02/14/2013

Between this and his story about chasing Jesus across interstellar space, my patience for Bradbury is wearing thin – this being a story about the wretched state of things in 2131 A.D., when nobody walks around anymore because everyone is embedded within their homes, watching television. Leonard Mead, the titular protagonist, finds himself confronted during one of his late-night walks by the one automated police car still left to patrol the city’s streets. Although this is the only no-walking-dystopia I am aware of, it also fits firmly in the tradition of the anti-book-dystopia:

“I guess you’d call me a writer.”
“No profession,” said the police car.
“You might say that,” said Mr. Mead. He hadn’t written in years. Magazines and books didn’t sell any more. Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now.. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multi-colored lights touching their expressionless faces but never really touching them.

After a bit of back-and-forth and bemoaning of the state of things, the car carts Mead off to the “Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.”

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