Among the many things the FBI of the 1950s and 1960s thought was corrupting America's youth and harbouring communism was, apparently, the science fiction scene.
Documents recently released under freedom of information laws, show the G-men took an interest in one of the era's leading authors, Ray Bradbury.
Their interest was apparently sparked by Martin Berkeley (Wikipedia), an enthusiastic anti-Communist and testator to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), who told the FBI the author of Fahrenheit 451 was “probably sympathetic with certain pro-Communist elements”.
“He noted that some of Bradbury's stories have definitely slanted against the United States and its capitalistic form of government”, the report adds.
“Informant observed that Communists have found fertile opportunities for development; for spreading distrust; and lack of confidence in America [sic] institutions in the area of science fiction writing”, the FOI document states.
Another informant complained that Bradbury had “ridiculed” both the US government and the HUAC hearings, and that Bradbury had signed a joint letter from the American Civil Liberties Union in 1953.
As Muckrock – a former writer for the site Inkoo Kang initiated the FOI – notes, Fahrenheit 451 had had been banned in Russia, but the FBI didn't seem to find that odd: “... this story sold over 50,000 copies in Russia until it was banned by the Russian Government apparently since the Russian Government felt it slandered their type of government as well as many other countries”.
Informants kept feeding whispers to keep the Feds on the case – for example, in the 1960s suggesting that Bradbury intended to make an illegal trip to Cuba. In 1968, informant LA T-2 told the FBI “Bradbury would be a type of person who might be invited to attend the Cultural Congress of Havana because of his liberal view but that he had no definite information concerning this matter”.
It wasn't until 1968 that the FBI gave up trying to tag Bradbury as more than a “known liberal writer”. ®