Ray Bradbury brings wonders alive. A peerless American storyteller, his oeuvre has been celebrated for decades-from the Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 to Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury-a collection of tales that breathe and move, animated by sharp, intaken breath and flexing muscle. Here are eighteen startling visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body.
The images, ideas, sounds, and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast, empty space of stars and blackness; the sight of grey dust settling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere; the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets.
Bradbury's The Illustrated Man is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth, widely believed to be one of the grandmaster's premier accomplishments: as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world.
The stories contained in The Illustrated Man are "Prologue: The Illustrated Man," "The Veldt," "Kaleidoscope," "The Other Foot," "The Highway," "The Man," "The Long Rain," "The Rocket Man," "The Last Night of the World," "The Exiles," "No Particular Night or Morning," "The Fox and the Forest," "The Visitor," "The Concrete Mixer," "Marionettes, Inc. ," "The City," "Zero Hour," "The Rocket," and "The Illustrated Man."
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A great bit of classic sic-fi
“The Illustrated Man” was published in 1951. It was already old when I first read it in about the 6th grade. I remembered it as a disturbing, thought-provoking collection,probably the roughest stuff I’d ever read at the time. I picked it up again now because I’ve been so disappointed with most of the collections of short science fiction I’ve tried lately. I wanted to see if “The Illustrated Man” was as amazing as I remembered it.
It is, although the passage of a few more decades will no doubt lighten its impact on todays readers, desensitized as we are to horror and obscenity.
There’s a difference though, between literature that’s just old and literature that’s classic. “The Illustrated Man” is classic sci-fi at it’s best. It is:
1 - Beautifully written. It’s language is lush and evocative. E.g. - you WILL walk in the rains of Venus even though we know now that they don’t exist.
2 - In the best tradition of sci-fi, hardware takes a backseat to the existential questions of what it is to be human and what our place in the universe is. That’s exactly the thing that has given “Star Trek” its incredibly long legs. And “The Illustrated Man” is one of the inspirational sources for that show.
3 - It now offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of only about 65 years ago. Atomic war and censorship were the greatest fears of the day. The internet was undreamt of, fast food as we know it didn’t exist and TV was less than 5 years old. Planetary science was still largely speculation, even fantasy. It’s amazing and if it doesn’t give you some pause and perspective on life then you must have a heart of stone or a head of concrete.
I won’t say that there isn’t a clinker or two in “The Illustrated Man” but I think the quality of the writing makes up for any datedness. Some of the stories are pure fantasy with touches of wry humor, others are deadly serious, some are wistful and philosophical. The collection is balanced and cohesive. The narrator of this version is excellent, I think he captures Bradbury’s intent really well.
It truly IS an amazing classic of science fiction and really a must for all fans of the genre - and even for those who aren’t , but who may be interested in getting the flavor of the thinking of an era.
Great writing, thought provoking
Amazing book that will take you on a great journey from start to end