The Illustrated Man
William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2001
(Originally published in 1951)
This is a collection of 18 short stories are bookended by the story of the Illustrated Man. The illustrations have been tattooed into the man’s skin, coming alive at night to tell their stories with some even foretelling the future.
As with other short story collections, we will only highlight a few of them.
The Veldt – The world’s first virtual reality room inside an automatic house way back in 1945. Mr. Bradbury has a bit of the prophetic inside him, does he not?
The Long Rain – Journey to Venus where it never stops raining – ever. Men go mad under the constant pounding of rain on their heads.
Kaleidoscope, The Rocket Man & The Last Night of the World –all three beautiful and poignant illustrations of accepting of the inevitable.
The Exiles – I wonder if this story is the seed that was planted in Jasper Fforde’s mind to grow the great tree of Thursday Next, his book-leaping character? If you aren’t familiar, click on the link. And as soon as his next Thursday Next book comes out, we’ll be binging on that series!
Marionettes, Inc – Mr. Bradbury’s wry sense of humor showing here. I laughed out loud when I read this one! Turn abouts fair play, as they say!
The City – classic revenge story with a skew to the bizarre.
My first impression of the book was that it isn’t as beautifully written as Dandelion Wine, nor as lyrical as some of the stories in I Sing the Body Electric but intriguing nonetheless. But then I went and read them again because I felt I must be missing something. And I was. I was reading to read, not to savor the beauty of words . So I started over and loved every story, some more than others, but all, in their own way, speak volumes of truth, especially about the beauty of the mundane. Mr. Bradbury takes mostly-ordinary events and people and paints portraits with mere words.
Being written at the beginning of the cold war most of the stories focus on the distant (or not so distant) future where man has either destroyed himself with the atom bomb or is ready to do so or when space travel is a normal part of everyday life (ah, would that were true!). And even though these stories are 60 years old they still have relevance today because even now humans are but a hairsbreadth away from destroying the planet.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws because I loved most of the stories and only like the rest. My favorite? The Long Rain. Tragic irony at its best and beautifully written.
other covers from the oft published book: