|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||The Reporter|
|Publication date||7 August 1951|
"The Pedestrian" is a short story by best-selling sci-fi author Ray Bradbury. This story was originally published in the August 7, 1951 issue of The Reporter by The Fortnightly Publishing Company. It is included in the collection The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953).
In this story we encounter Leonard Mead, a citizen of a television-centered world in 2053.[notes 1] In the city, roads have fallen into decay. It is revealed that Mead enjoys walking through the city during the night, something which no one else does. "In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not one in all that time." On one of his usual walks he encounters a police car which is possibly robotic. It is the only police unit in a city of three million, since the purpose of law enforcement has disappeared with everyone watching TV at night. Mead tells the car that he is a writer when asked about his profession, but the car does not understand, since no one buys book or magazines in the television-dominated society. The police car or its occupants struggle to understand why Mead would be out walking for no reason and so decides to take him to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies. He is forced to get in the car. As the car passes through his neighborhood, Leonard Mead in the locked confines of the backseat says, "That's my house". There is no reply.
It is noticeable that the address of the main character, Leonard Mead, happens to be the address of the house that Bradbury grew up in. This has caused speculation that this short story is actually referring to himself, or is in some related way a message to his home town of Waukegan, Illinois.
In an interview, Bradbury revealed that the inspiration for the story came when he was walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles with a friend. On their walk, a police cruiser pulled up and asked what they were doing. Bradbury answered, "Well, we're putting one foot in front of the other." The policemen didn't appreciate Ray's joke and became suspicious of Bradbury and his friend for walking in an area where there were no pedestrians. After some arguing the policeman told them to go home and to not walk any more. Bradbury said, "Yes, sir, I'll never walk again." Using this experience as inspiration he went home and wrote "The Pedestrian". Bradbury also said in this interview that "The Pedestrian" is simply the beginning of Fahrenheit 451.
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- Chalker, Jack L.; Owings, Mark (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923–1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 887.
- Contento, William G. "Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, Combined Edition". Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- LaGuardia, Dolores; Guth, Hans P. (1995). American Visions: Multicultural Literatures for Writers. Mountain View, CA and Toronto: Mayfield Publishing Company. pp. 384–388.