|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||The Reporter|
|Publication date||7 August 1951|
"The Pedestrian" is a short story by best-selling science fiction 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. Mead enjoys walking through the city at 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 books or magazines in the television-dominated society. The police car, nor its occupants can 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. And that's the end of his life.
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.
The 60th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 contains the short piece "The Story of Fahrenheit 451" by Jonathan R. Eller. In it, Eller writes that Bradbury's inspiration for the story came when he was walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles with a friend sometime in late 1949. 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. Using this experience as inspiration he wrote "The Pedestrian", which he sent to his New York agent Don Congdon in March 1950. According to Eller, "[the story's] composition in the early months of 1950 predates Bradbury's conception of 'The Fireman,'" the short novella that would later evolve into Fahrenheit 451.
- This is the year given in the original The Reporter version as well as in the 2006 Match to Flame anthology. The time settings 2052 and 2053 have also been used, which at times has created an internal contradiction with the year given in the "last year's election" sentence later in the story when it was not adjusted as necessary.
- Bradbury, Ray (August 7, 1951). Ascoli, Max, ed. "The Pedestrian" (PDF). The Reporter. 220 East 42nd Street, New York 17, NY: Fortnightly Publishing Company. 5 (3). Retrieved 22 August 2013.
- Bradbury, Ray (January 10, 2012). Fahrenheit 451 (60th Anniversary ed.). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 172. ISBN 1451673310.
- Lentz, Harris M. (1994). Science fiction, horror & fantasy film and television credits: Supplement 2, through 1993. 4. McFarland Publishing. p. 277. ISBN 9780899509273.
- 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 September 21, 2015.
- LaGuardia, Dolores; Guth, Hans P. (1995). American Visions: Multicultural Literatures for Writers. Mountain View, CA and Toronto: Mayfield Publishing Company. pp. 384–388.