Title: The Illustrated Man
Author: Ray Bradbury
On the Shelves: Fiction> Anthology/Sci-Fi
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 of humankind’s destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin – 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 gray dust selling 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. Ray 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 (Goodreads 2014)
Last year, I read Farenheit 451, and then Something Wicked this Way Comes…then this year, I read We’ll Always Have Paris, and now The Illustrated Man. I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a Bradbury Kick (and I regret nothing!). But this book was certainly different then what I was expecting.
I went into Farenheit and Something Wicked… knowing they were both novels, and I went into Paris knowing it was an anthology of short stories. The Illustrated Man kind of caught me off guard.. I was expecting a full story much like Farenheit or Something Wicked…but no, The Illustrated Man is actually another anthology of short stories! It begins with the introduction and meeting of two men, one sitting in park, and one covered in tattoos- except these tattoos come to life, telling stories and the future of those in them. Now I expected the book to be about the illustrated man, but instead, you only really see two glimpses of him in the whole book- after the introduction, the main character starts watching the tattoos while the illustrated man sleeps, and this is where the anthology begins.
This anthology itself is as enjoyable as his other works. Full of rockets, and aliens, and sci- fi fantasies. Strange planets, adventures and future wonderings of a technological age. Bradbury really is one of the kings of the Sci Fi genre. The collection opens with a take on Peter Pan, where Peter and Wendy are two children living in a house with their parents- but the house is a technological one and the nursery literally comes to life with imagination every day- and it turns disturbing very quickly. One story I loved is called “The Other Foot”, which I highly recommend everybody reading, even if you don’t read the whole book. It highlights the importance of forgiveness in regards to civil rights and racism and I feel it’s quite poignant.
I was a little let down with this collection, but I think it is just because it was so different from what I was expecting in terms of the actual content, I really wanted a full novel by Bradbury- but I’m still quite happy with what I read here and would recommend it to anyone wanting to read his work.