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Charles Shields

Public Relations
Charles Shields, Author

Charles Shields, Author

1. If money were no object, how would you spend your time?

Money is no object. I live better than most of the people in the world, in a free country, in a loving relationship, and doing the work I’ve always wanted to do. Lots of money would be a nuisance, so I would give it away.

2. What book impacted your life the most and how?

Whenever I open to the first chapter of Ray Bradbury’s 1950 novel, "The Martian Chronicles," suddenly it is the summer of 1964 and I am a thirteen-year-old boy again in the Midwest, awed by Bradbury’s description of rocket exhaust thawing-out an Ohio town in winter: 
“The rocket lay on the launching field, blowing out pink clouds of fire and oven heat. The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land...”
The stage is set for a series of American missions to Mars. This is exactly what I wanted to read about when I was a kid who launched model rockets to do my patriotic part in the Space Race.
But what’s this? "The Martian Chronicles" is not a collection of stories about ray guns, alien monsters, or interstellar wars. It’s about racism, and imperialism, imported to a pristine civilization on Mars, and the ecological destruction of the planet.
I was stunned when I finished the book. Why had the gentle Martians living in their crystal homes been crushed? Wasn’t the spread of American values everywhere a good thing? Wasn’t it taken for granted that all cultures different from ours were inferior? The realization that The Martian Chronicles were parables about how good ol’ American know-how was often just arrogance and intolerance really shook me. I never accepted the American Way without question ever again.

3. Tell us something about you that would surprise most of the people who think they know you.

I can’t because I don’t want to go back to jail again.