“The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury (Doubleday, 1951)

Illustrated Man

The recent passing of Ray Bradbury was a very sad loss for the writing world, as we lost not just one of the foremost science fiction writers of our time, but one of our greatest storytellers and writers period.  But even with his loss, Ray Bradbury will continue to be read and enjoyed by many fans, as well as be discovered by new readers for the first time.  The Illustrated Man is an excellent example for those looking to give Ray Bradbury a try and find out just how good he is.

The book is told with the framing story of the illustrated man – a man covered in tattoos that when stared at by others come to life and tell their own stories.  Stories of a future high-tech nursery where children play amongst real animals, but when their parents threaten to take this supreme toy away, they have a plan to take care of them once and for all.  A story of a future Mars colonized by black people, but now Earth is on the brink of obliteration and the white man needs a new place to live; will the colonists of Mars allow this immigration?  There is the moving story of “The Rocket Man” who loves his wife and son ever so much, but continues to feel the yearning  pull of space and can never remain on Earth too long.  In “The City” some space travelers discover an abandoned city on a planet, but as they search through it, it seems the city is not uninhabited after all.

The stories in The Illustrated Man will move you, they’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry; they’ll make you terrified and also make you think about the way your world is and about the way it might one day be.  This is Bradbury at his best and no fan of the short story – no matter the genre – will want to skip this one.

Originally written on July 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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