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Il gioco dei pianeti Science Fiction Book Club 20 - La Bussola SF 5

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That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in '51 is fair testimony to the universal appeal of Bradbury's work. Only his 2nd collection (the 1st was Dark Carnival, later reworked into The October Country), it's a marvelous, if mostly dark, quilt of science fiction, fantasy & horror. In an ingenious framework to open & close the book, Bradb That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in '51 is fair testimony to the universal appeal of Bradbury's work. Only his 2nd collection (the 1st was Dark Carnival, later reworked into The October Country), it's a marvelous, if mostly dark, quilt of science fiction, fantasy & horror. In an ingenious framework to open & close the book, Bradbury presents himself as a nameless narrator who meets the Illustrated Man--a wanderer whose entire body is a living canvas of exotic tattoos. What's even more remarkable, & increasingly disturbing, is that the illustrations are themselves magically alive, & each proceeds to unfold its own story, such as "The Veldt," wherein rowdy children take a game of virtual reality way over the edge. Or "Kaleidoscope," a heartbreaking portrait of stranded astronauts about to reenter our atmosphere--without the benefit of a spaceship. Or "Zero Hour," in which invading aliens have discovered a most logical ally--our own children. Even tho most were written in the '40s & '50s, these 18 classic stories will be just as chillingly effective 50 years from now.--Stanley Wiater (edited)


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That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in '51 is fair testimony to the universal appeal of Bradbury's work. Only his 2nd collection (the 1st was Dark Carnival, later reworked into The October Country), it's a marvelous, if mostly dark, quilt of science fiction, fantasy & horror. In an ingenious framework to open & close the book, Bradb That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in '51 is fair testimony to the universal appeal of Bradbury's work. Only his 2nd collection (the 1st was Dark Carnival, later reworked into The October Country), it's a marvelous, if mostly dark, quilt of science fiction, fantasy & horror. In an ingenious framework to open & close the book, Bradbury presents himself as a nameless narrator who meets the Illustrated Man--a wanderer whose entire body is a living canvas of exotic tattoos. What's even more remarkable, & increasingly disturbing, is that the illustrations are themselves magically alive, & each proceeds to unfold its own story, such as "The Veldt," wherein rowdy children take a game of virtual reality way over the edge. Or "Kaleidoscope," a heartbreaking portrait of stranded astronauts about to reenter our atmosphere--without the benefit of a spaceship. Or "Zero Hour," in which invading aliens have discovered a most logical ally--our own children. Even tho most were written in the '40s & '50s, these 18 classic stories will be just as chillingly effective 50 years from now.--Stanley Wiater (edited)

30 review for Il gioco dei pianeti Science Fiction Book Club 20 - La Bussola SF 5

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    I read a review once that described Robert A. Heinlein as a creepy old uncle who drinks too much at parties and who makes embarrassing comments, but who everyone likes in spite of his outdated ways – kind of a loveable rogue. Ray Bradbury, similar but by contrast, is like the dotty old professor whom everyone cannot help but love and who overlook his eccentricities. His stories are as warm and imaginative as a summer afternoon. And all due respect to Fahrenheit 451, which is a fine novel, but I I read a review once that described Robert A. Heinlein as a creepy old uncle who drinks too much at parties and who makes embarrassing comments, but who everyone likes in spite of his outdated ways – kind of a loveable rogue. Ray Bradbury, similar but by contrast, is like the dotty old professor whom everyone cannot help but love and who overlook his eccentricities. His stories are as warm and imaginative as a summer afternoon. And all due respect to Fahrenheit 451, which is a fine novel, but I submit that Bradbury’s great contribution to literature arises from his short stories, he is a master of the medium. And just as Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke are the “Big Three” and are the masters and founders of modern science fiction, Bradbury is an atavist, a throwback to Wells and Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs – he is our last link to a simpler time, before the age of information, before everything was required to be explained in scientific detail. Where Heinlein will go into great detail to explain the mathematical elements of a hyperspace warp drive and how it affects the space –time continuum, Bradbury would simply write, “and they got in the rocket and went to Mars.” Beautifully simple and imaginative. And, let’s just get it out on the table – what about Mars? I think that to Bradbury, Mars was not just the fourth planet, Mars was a representative of “another place”. Mars was the “out there”, was Bradbury’s Neverland, his Wonderland. The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories, many that take up from the The Martian Chronicles with his fascination with Mars as an alternate reality, loosely connected with a centerpiece of a tattooed carnival worker whose body art moves and shifts and tells stories. Wonderfully imaginative, quintessential Bradbury.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Ray Bradbury was an absolute master storyteller whose writing was creative and full of moments of pure bitter irony: he was an imaginative genius, nothing more nothing less. Bradbury picks the bones of society clean; he gnaws at them until he exposes the reality of the marrow beneath. Each story in here has a piece of wisdom to share, a resolution or disaster that could have been easily avoided if man was not so corrupt in his ways. The more I read of his writing the more convinced I become that Ray Bradbury was an absolute master storyteller whose writing was creative and full of moments of pure bitter irony: he was an imaginative genius, nothing more nothing less. Bradbury picks the bones of society clean; he gnaws at them until he exposes the reality of the marrow beneath. Each story in here has a piece of wisdom to share, a resolution or disaster that could have been easily avoided if man was not so corrupt in his ways. The more I read of his writing the more convinced I become that he was a misanthrope. Time and time again he creates a situation that is pure and good; yet, somehow man destroys it with his self-obsessed stupidity. And this is his point: humanity is a cancer. “Long before you knew what death was you were wishing it on someone else.” Perhaps that’s why Bradbury looked to the stars. He saw that man was ruining earth, so he looked to give him a fresh start. As with the equally as excellent collection of short storiesThe Martian Chronicles, the planet Mars plays a vital role in the narrative. For Bradbury it represented something new and something clean, a means to rejuvenate and become something more than we are. Within the writing there is a glimpse of hope (an almost extinguished spark) that we can improve and become better; it is faint, though it is there. “We're all fools," said Clemens, "all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we're not perfect and live accordingly.” He also built upon his elucidating novel Fahrenheit 451 is the short story ‘Usher II’ creating a tale of revenge in its aftermath. One very disgruntled reader rounds up the government officials, those that passed the book burning laws, and murders them all in a life size re-creation of one of Poe’s most memorable stories. It’s a sharp statement that strikes at the heart of censorship, control and consumerism. It is the words of a man who feared for the future, who feared that one day stories would not be allowed such freedom. And all this is told through the markings on a man’s skin. I find the idea of the illustrated man, a man who is covered in tattoos that shift and change telling new stories with every dawn, so clever. It allowed Bradbury to enter any story he chose in here; they could be random and it wouldn’t overly matter. This leads me on to my only criticism: he did not really use that freedom as much as he could of. The stories all related to one key theme or idea, and often involved Mars; however, I think he could have done much more and imagined up a selection of more versatile illustrations/stories if he tried I really did enjoy what he wrote here, hence the rating, though I will always know that he could have gone much further with this as the versatility in the image shows:

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    “And I think it's gonna be a long long time 'Till touch down brings me round again to find I'm not the man they think I am at home Oh no no no I'm a rocket man Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone” Rocket Man – Elton John – Inspired by a story from The Illustrated Man Sometimes when I read Ray Bradbury, I feel like I am not worthy. That was definitely the case this time! Not just a 5 star book – all the starts in the universe! Bradbury is a master story teller. He is a weaver of the unique and “And I think it's gonna be a long long time 'Till touch down brings me round again to find I'm not the man they think I am at home Oh no no no I'm a rocket man Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone” Rocket Man – Elton John – Inspired by a story from The Illustrated Man Sometimes when I read Ray Bradbury, I feel like I am not worthy. That was definitely the case this time! Not just a 5 star book – all the starts in the universe! Bradbury is a master story teller. He is a weaver of the unique and bizarre. His words and stories dig into your brain and set up shop. What once seemed normal . . . what once seemed reasonable . . . will quickly become unstable and other-worldly in the hands of this master. While maybe not every one of the stories in The Illustrated Man will blow you away, I can almost 100% guarantee they will all leave you thinking in their own special way. While reading this collection, I got into a discussion about how Bradbury writes. That discussion included a side journey into the old Twilight Zone episodes. That is exactly it – every Bradbury story reads exactly like an old episode of the classic sci-fi show. Often, things appear normal and Bradbury will shift them in a slight and unexpected way which takes the story in a way just slightly outside the norm. These shifts are rarely monumental or explosive – just enough to throw off the norm. For example, and this is not one he used, but should illustrate what I mean: he might write a story in a world where the letter A has been banned and go through all the ramifications that might have on the fictional society in his story. Another huge factor that is obvious in these stories is the affect the world of 1951 (year of publication) had on these stories. You can tell that these stories were written under the pressure of the cold war, nuclear threat, governments in turmoil, Communist fears, civil rights, etc. So much of the world from that time period seeps between the lines. I would almost say that some of this book is in a genre of its own – historic sci-fi. If you have any interest in how the world affected literature in the mid-1900s, this would be the perfect case study. As it is pretty obvious by now, I loved this book! I love Bradbury! I cannot wait until the next one!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    The first few stories were AMAZING, and with the exception of a few more that I enjoyed later on, the rest of the stories were pretty boring. They were all really futuristic and most had to do with Mars in some way, which I thought was cool. Most of the stories also had very clear moral lessons, so they're great stories to read aloud (maybe not to small children, but I'm sure older kids would enjoy them). My favorite stories are: -The Veldt -The Other Foot -The Rocket Man -The Last Night of the Worl The first few stories were AMAZING, and with the exception of a few more that I enjoyed later on, the rest of the stories were pretty boring. They were all really futuristic and most had to do with Mars in some way, which I thought was cool. Most of the stories also had very clear moral lessons, so they're great stories to read aloud (maybe not to small children, but I'm sure older kids would enjoy them). My favorite stories are: -The Veldt -The Other Foot -The Rocket Man -The Last Night of the World (and this one is only a few pages long!) -The Fox and the Forest I wish that the Illustrated Man would have had a bigger part of the story (like he did at the beginning), but oh well. Overall, a fairly enjoyable collection.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    "... he was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voices murmuring small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body. When his flesh twitched, the tiny mouths flickered, the tiny green-and-gold eyes winked, the tiny pink hands gestured. There were yellow meadows and blue rivers and mountains and stars and suns and planets spread in a Milky Way across his chest. The people themselves were in twenty or more odd groups upon hi "... he was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voices murmuring small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body. When his flesh twitched, the tiny mouths flickered, the tiny green-and-gold eyes winked, the tiny pink hands gestured. There were yellow meadows and blue rivers and mountains and stars and suns and planets spread in a Milky Way across his chest. The people themselves were in twenty or more odd groups upon his arms, shoulders, back, sides, and wrists, as well as on the flat of his stomach. You found them in forests of hair, lurking among a constellation of freckles, or peering from armpit caverns, diamond eyes aglitter. Each seemed intent upon his own activity; each was a separate gallery portrait." How did he do it? Ray Bradbury had an uncanny ability to describe things so vividly that my mind automatically generates clear hi-def image even as I read the words. As if Bradbury conjured images with his words rather than just writing them. Since his passing a few months ago I have been on a little Bradbury binge, I started with started with Something Wicked This Way Comes, then The October Country, The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and now The Illustrated Man. As with a lot of his works The Illustrated Man is more science fantasy than science fiction, the science in his stories are often very suspect but Bradbury never wanted to write hard sf, he left that sort of thing to the likes of Asimov/Clarke/Heinlein, who were masters of the form. He wanted to write about humanity in his imagined scenarios. The whys are always more important than the hows for him. My favourite cover, I always like the "on the nose" ones. Mars is Bradbury's go-to planets for aliens and rockets the space vehicle of choice. So, this being an sf collection Mars and rockets are featured in most stories, no FTL drives here probably because all the stories take place within our solar system (mostly just Earth and Mars - with one exception). There are 18 stories here, wrapped within a great frame story featuring the titular Illustrated Man, he of the weird animated tattoos so beautifully described in the quoted paragraph above: 1. The Veldt - Featuring one of Bradbury 's favorite plot devices, the auto-house (AI controlled houses). When a virtual reality nursery insist on showing an African veldt with hungry lions I think an appropriate modern tagline for this story would be "Shit Just Got Real". A tale of bad parenting and over indulging kids, I don't think Bradbury would have liked to live in an auto-house. 2. Kaleidoscope - After a rocket fall apart while in space the astronauts begin to float off in all directions. Here death is shown to be a great leveler. Also a rumination on the "quality of death", regret, redemption, and peace of mind as the end approaches. 3. The Other Foot This seems like a sequel to "Way in the Middle of the Air" from The Martian Chronicles. Mars has been entirely colonized by black people for 20 years. One day a rocket arrive with a crew of whites, will all hell break lose? I like the way the kids are all excited about seeing their first white people. 4. The Highway - The world ends except in countryside, where the rural protagonist's scope of the world is defined by his immediate pastoral settings. A simple life + ignorance = bliss 5. The Man - Rumours of the Messiah on Mars, not so much the Second Coming as the First such arrival, you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith. 6. The Long Rain - This is actually my favorite story in this collection, it is set on Venus (for a change) where it pelts down with rain all the time, very visceral, especially as it was raining when I was reading it. 7. The Rocket Man Yes, this song inspired Elton John's hit of the same name. A sad story about an astronaut so addicted to space he forsakes his family. 8. The Fire Balloons - Sentient and enlightened Martian balloons. Short short stories shouldn't be described at length! 9. The Last Night of the World - What it says on the tin but without any scene of explosions or death and destruction. It's just like any other day really. 10. The Exiles - The year is actually mentioned here, it's 2120 and Man is about to arrive on Mars. Unfortunately it is already occupied by the witches from Macbeth and other creatures from supernatural tales banned on Earth. This story is similar in theme to Fahrenheit 451. 11. No Particular Night or Morning - This story reminds me of the old philosophical question "When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound?" I suspect only self centered (and insane) people would believe things don't exist when they are not around. 12. The Fox and the Forest - The single time travelling tale here, a nice couple hounded by some kind of "time police", not on Mars incidentally. 13. The Visitor - A telepathic man arrive on Mars, he has the ability to conjure up illusions of places, sight and smell. Makes him all too popular among the sick sufferers of "blood rust" who have been cast off from Earth. Reminds me of a story from The Martian Chronicles called "The Martian". 14. The Concrete Mixer - Martians invade earth and become corrupted by our numerous vices and follies. The single humorous story in this book I think. Particularly satirical of the American way of life. 15. Marionettes, Inc. - Do Marionettes dream of electric sheep? This is an early example of the sf trope of replacing people with robot or android copies. Veteran sf readers will not be surprised by the ending, but it is still a great little story about what makes us human and the way we treat each other. 16. The City - The single scifi-horror story here about a living AI city. If we don't reap what we sow our descendants will do the reaping, or may be we reap what our ancestors sow? Surprisingly violent and graphic story. May be this is my favorite story in this book. Any way, it's just great! 17. Zero Hour - Reminds me of the M. Night Shyamalan's movie Signs. Also about the peril of bad parenting (again), I think. More creepy kids. 18. The Rocket - A sweet but not too saccharine story about a poor junkyard family. The image of an inert silver rocket standing in the junkyard is particularly evocative. After that we are back with the eponymous Illustrated Man, in nice and creepy closer. And look how long I have gone on and on! Not the strongest Bradbury collection I think, but still a must-read for fans of the late great author, of sf stories, and of decent reads in general. "Sexy" Rod Steiger version 🤣

  6. 4 out of 5

    RJ

    Bradbury's classic short story collection includes some Golden Age gems and some duds too: - Prologue: The Illustrated Man - 3/5 - framing story that starts off the collection - The Veldt - 5/5 - you can take the kids out of the veldt, but you can't take the veldt out of the kids - Kaleidoscope - 3/5 - dying astronauts' final thoughts and wishes - The Other Foot - 5/5 - what happens when a rocket brings a Caucasian to an African-American settlement on Mars (written in 1949 prior to the Civil Right Bradbury's classic short story collection includes some Golden Age gems and some duds too: - Prologue: The Illustrated Man - 3/5 - framing story that starts off the collection - The Veldt - 5/5 - you can take the kids out of the veldt, but you can't take the veldt out of the kids - Kaleidoscope - 3/5 - dying astronauts' final thoughts and wishes - The Other Foot - 5/5 - what happens when a rocket brings a Caucasian to an African-American settlement on Mars (written in 1949 prior to the Civil Rights Movement) - The Highway - 3/5 - a contrast in perspectives regarding Armageddon - The Man - 3/5 - praise Jebus - The Long Rain - 3/5 - "We've been through every kind of rain there is." (Forrest Gump) - The Rocket Man - 3/5 - Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be Rocket Men - The Last Night of the World - 2/5 - Think about it. What if it's the last day on Earth for you? For someone you love? What if that's true? - The Exiles - 4/5 - Will the real Martians please stand up? - No Particular Night or Morning - 1/5 - 12 pages of ranting about object permanence. - The Fox and the Forest - 4/5 - time travel AWOL - The Visitor - 4/5 - And I thought it was bad when I had to fight my daughter for the remote - The Concrete Mixer - 2/5 - interesting idea but too long and overbearingly critical - Marionettes, Inc. - 4/5 - lighthearted story about spousal robot replacements - The City - 4/5 - When the lights go down in the city - Zero Hour - 5/5 - Nice twist on an alien invasion story with laugh-out-loud dark humor - The Rocket - 3/5 - outer space family vacation - The Illustrated Man - 3/5 - fat, tattooed and angry is no way to go through life, son - Epilogue - 3/5 - finale of the framing story There's also an Introduction written by the author in 1997 contained in the newer editions of this collection.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “I shall remain on Mars and read a book.” ― Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man Ray Bradbury is forever connected to my youth. He is 180-proof literary, pulp, scifi nostalgia. I remember reading him for fun, reading him anthologized, reading him again and again. I permanently dented my aunt's couch one summer reading Vonnegut and Bradbury. I've recently returned to him as a father and an adult and get to re-establish connection to this great writer of American pop-lit. His stories (and books as wel “I shall remain on Mars and read a book.” ― Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man Ray Bradbury is forever connected to my youth. He is 180-proof literary, pulp, scifi nostalgia. I remember reading him for fun, reading him anthologized, reading him again and again. I permanently dented my aunt's couch one summer reading Vonnegut and Bradbury. I've recently returned to him as a father and an adult and get to re-establish connection to this great writer of American pop-lit. His stories (and books as well) are part of our modern psyche. He was the original rocket man. Not the first star in the night, but the one that tore a bit of the sky open for the rest. There are no crappy stories here. He wrote about alienation, loneliness, jealousy, racism, and fear in new ways. He was light on scifi (it was a light frame) and heavy on characters, but he kept enough of the pulpy scifi tropes to make you almost unaware of the pill you were swallowing until it was completely absorbed. Reading these reminded me how little I appreciated Bradbury's prose when I was young. I was a kid, so I was fixated on the story, the surprise, the horror. Now, I read these stories and I think DAMN Bradbury can write the pants off all but the best short story writers. He might not be Chekhov, but on his best days and with his best stories, he isn't far behind. Stories: 1. The Veldt - ★★★★★ 2. Kaleidescope - ★★★★★ 3. The Other Foot- ★★★★ 4. The Highway - ★★★ 5. The Man - ★★★★ 6. The Long Rain - ★★★★ 7. The Rocket Man - ★★★★ 8. The Last Night of the World - ★★★ 9. The Exiles - ★★★★ 10. No Particular Night or Evening - ★★★★★ 11. The Fox and the Forest - ★★★★ 12. The Visitor - ★★★★★ 13. The Concrete Mixer - ★★★ 14. Marionettes, Inc. - ★★★★★ 15. The City - ★★★ 16. Zero Hour - ★★★★★ 17. The Rocket - ★★★★★ 18. The Illustrated Man [story & frame] - ★★★★

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maciek

    This is one of Ray Bradbury's earliest collections of short stories, and the concept behind is quite brilliant. On an early September day in Wisconsin, the unnamed narrator meets the eponymous Illustrated Man - a wandering carnie with incredible images tattooed across his body. They are detailed, colorful and mysterious, and able to move on their own; the narrator counts eighteen different illustrations, each depicting what the Illustrated Man claims to be the future. Unfortunately, both the conc This is one of Ray Bradbury's earliest collections of short stories, and the concept behind is quite brilliant. On an early September day in Wisconsin, the unnamed narrator meets the eponymous Illustrated Man - a wandering carnie with incredible images tattooed across his body. They are detailed, colorful and mysterious, and able to move on their own; the narrator counts eighteen different illustrations, each depicting what the Illustrated Man claims to be the future. Unfortunately, both the concept and character of the Illustrated Man is never expanded upon - and the Illustrated Man is nothing more than a framing device for eighteen unrelated stories (most if not all of which were published previously). The stories themselves have nothing to do with the carnival, the Illustrated Man and his life - all are set in the future, and explore universal themes via science fiction. In Kaleidoscope, a group of astronauts shares their last moment as they float through empty space after their rocket blew up; The Long Rain has a group of explorers marooned on Venus, struggling to find shelter from constant rain which has soaked them to the bone. A man purchases a robot identical to himself so that he can go on a vacation to Rio in Marionettes, Inc.; Mars has been colonized entirely by black people in The Other Foot, who plan to institute racial segregation and Jim Crow laws for white travelers who are bound their way from earth. They're good, engaging stories, and it's difficult to pick a favorite - thought if I had to I think I'd pick The Rocket, which is about Fiorello Bodoni - a poor junkyard owner who has finally saved enough money to be able to afford his lifelong dream - a trip to outer space. However, the money can only buy one ticket, and Fiorello and his family have to choose who will go. I found this story to be the most touching and memorable of all in its simplicity, and a great way to conclude the volume. Luckily, Bradbury himself considered the Illustrated Man to be too good to waste, and later made him one of the antagonists in his famous novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes - but I still wish that the stories would revolve more about his character. I was expecting stories more in tone and theme with Bradbury's other collection, which I read and reviewed last year and recommend highly - The October Country. The Illustrated Man is not a bad collection by any means - just don't expect pumpkins, carnivals and Halloween when you'll begin to read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Better than I expected and I expected a lot.Like Martian chronicle this is book of sci-fi short stories and like Martian chronicle there is lot more going on beneath the surface. As with all short story collections not all of stories are same quality and not all deserve 5 stars but even lowest point of this book is pretty damn high.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    I stumbled across this short story collection when searching for horror literature online. However, the stories in "The Illustrated Man" are not straight up horror; they're more like sci-fi stories and predictions on what life will look like 50-100 years from its publication date. The narrative frame of the stories goes like this: A man, covered in tattoos, tells another man that he stumbles across to not look too deeply at his tattoos because they all tell stories that come true. Needless to sa I stumbled across this short story collection when searching for horror literature online. However, the stories in "The Illustrated Man" are not straight up horror; they're more like sci-fi stories and predictions on what life will look like 50-100 years from its publication date. The narrative frame of the stories goes like this: A man, covered in tattoos, tells another man that he stumbles across to not look too deeply at his tattoos because they all tell stories that come true. Needless to say, the other man can't help watching and that's when the narration begins. I very much felt like Ray Bradbury had a way too pessimistic view on the future. Basically, we are all going to destroy Earth and each other, or at least only bad things will happen such as us burning all books dealing with horror or killing each other in nuclear wars. That being said, I did find some of the stories very interesting - especially the ones that deal with religion. Bradbury has some interesting ideas that got me curious, and as is the case with most short story collections, I loved some stories whereas others didn't really speak to me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    One of the great joys of exploring old Science Fiction is coming across stories like the best works in this book, stories that make you wonder how you could possibly have gone so long without reading them. Bradbury is best known for his novel Fahrenheit 451, which is deservedly famous, However to my jaded readers' eye some of his short stories deliver more bang for buck, more emotional punch per word. Of course, not all the works in this book are great or even good, and like almost every short st One of the great joys of exploring old Science Fiction is coming across stories like the best works in this book, stories that make you wonder how you could possibly have gone so long without reading them. Bradbury is best known for his novel Fahrenheit 451, which is deservedly famous, However to my jaded readers' eye some of his short stories deliver more bang for buck, more emotional punch per word. Of course, not all the works in this book are great or even good, and like almost every short story collection I have read there is the occasional turd floating in what is an otherwise inviting pool. The first story in this collection however is a gem. Kaleidoscope is a tale of the doomed crew of a ship that has torn open, sending them careening into the vacuum in their spacesuits with no hope of rescue or survival, only radio linking them as they drift further apart We watch as the men come to terms with their deaths, assess their own lives and reflect on the lives of their fellow crew. There is anger, sadness, regret, joy and acceptance in this poignant and touching tale, and I ate it up. As an opener for a collection it's a real winner, a genuine classic. From here we travel around the solar system and into the far future. In The Long Rain Bradbury tells an engaging story of a crashed crew on a Venus where the never-ending rain drives visitors insane, and The City is an interesting tale of a millennia-long search for vengeance. Bradbury also engages in some particularly interesting explorations of religious faith in a science fiction context. All these ruminations, in The Man and The Fire Balloons, are from a Christian perspective, but Bradbury was raised a Baptist and writes convincingly from the deist mindset. The Fire Balloons in particular is an interesting story of Christian missionaries going to Mars, where they must choose between ministering to the humans there or attempting to convert the strange ethereal natives of the red planet. Like many of his contemporaries Bradbury's storytelling is refreshingly direct. There's little narrative artifice here, other than some lovely turns of phrase and some silky-smooth writing. The central binding thread - that the stories are the changing, story-telling tattoos of the 'Illustrated Man' is nice, but both unnecessary and underutilized. The stories themselves stand without the need for a common segue and the tattooed man idea feels tacked on. Of course, being a short story collection, there are a few weak stories in here, tainting the water somewhat. For me maybe a third of the book is comprised of weaker material. The Veldt - a tale of technology warping children (and our dangerous reliance on tech in general) didn’t really fly for me, and The Highway - a seeming reflection on the differences between city and country life and perceptions of what ‘civilization’ is also left me cold. The penultimate story, Zero Hour also seemed a little trite, although it is hard to tell with older SF whether this is due to so many similar stories having been written since, turning an original idea into cliche. Being as these stories were written in 1951 there are a few tell-tale anachronisms that are common in works of the era, something that I personally love spotting in SF of this vintage. The most noticeable of these is the ubiquity of smoking. It seems Bradbury simply couldn’t imagine a world where people without nicotine addicts, and in his stories spaceship crew chain-smoke inside their vessels, and time travellers buy cartons of cigarettes on trips to the past. Other classic 1950s SF hallmarks are present such as tape decks being used in far-future societies, and advanced machines being comprised of cogs, gears and hydraulics. It all seems very quaint now, although I suppose in a millennia or two we may well look back on Iain M. Banks' super-AIs and field-powered drones as being hopelessly dated. Overall though, the good in The Illustrated Man strongly outweighs the bad. I urge you not to wait as long as I did before reading this- several of the stories in here are genuine classics of the genre, and they are well worth your time. 3.5 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    It was a dark and stormy night. Enters a mysterious character that seems escaped from a different novel (Something Wicked This Way Comes) . His body is completely covered in animated tattoos, images that he claims show events yet to pass. If you look carefully, you might even get a glimpse of your own future. The role of this opening sequence of the collection serves as a foreword from the author explaining why these previously published stories were included here and not others: they are a map o It was a dark and stormy night. Enters a mysterious character that seems escaped from a different novel (Something Wicked This Way Comes) . His body is completely covered in animated tattoos, images that he claims show events yet to pass. If you look carefully, you might even get a glimpse of your own future. The role of this opening sequence of the collection serves as a foreword from the author explaining why these previously published stories were included here and not others: they are a map of our humanity, a DNA sequencing of our emotional landscape, a study of the intimate, deeply personal impact of the future on our lives. Bradbury is focused on the individual, on what goes on inside the head of his characters, on motivations and aspirations and phobias. Science is incidental to the plot, it's there as part of the environment, and the questions of why or how it works are less important that the ones about how it affects the psychology of the individuals caught in its grip. While the quality of the stories is a uneven, and some of them feel dated , the ones that are good are really exceptional in their beautiful, evocative language and powerful emotional impact. I find it difficult to pick a favorite, but I think I will go with: The Rocket Man - the story of the family man who loves deeply his wife and kid, but can't resist the call of the star spangled skies at night. Coming close behind: Kaleidoscope - a group of astronauts are ejected into space when their ship is damaged and talk to each other over radio. The Exiles - echoing some themes from Fahrenheit 451, gothic and fantastic literature is banned on Earth, the books burned and the stories almost forgotten. No Particular Night or Morning - about the emptiness of space and the claustrophobic pressure of living for months inside a cramped rocket. The Fox and the Forest - a couple travels back in time in order to escape from a future militarized gulag. Zero Hour - a children's game about an alien invasion may turned out to be true after all. Made me think of Hitchcock. The Rocket - space travel is expensive and a man saves money for decades, hoping one day he or one member of his family may buy a ticket to see the planets and the stars from up close. If I continue, I will eventually list all the stories. Of particular interest are several that explore the role of religion in the future. Bardbury doesn't hold the view that science excludes the need for spiritual epiphany, and I must say I kind of agree with him. It's important at least for the questions to be asked and to search for the answers: The Man , The Fire Balloons and tangentially The Visitor and The Other Foot are the stories dealing with spirituality and morality. I said some of the stories feel dated. I wasn't referring to the language or the themes, but rather to the way space and the planets are presented. Mars and Venus are in fact mirror images of Earth, ignoring the differences in gravity, air pressure, toxic elements or radiation. Mars is a dry desert and on Venus it rains all the time, and that's about it. Space travel is also more of a concept than a credible rendition. Not even the weightlessness is mentioned. The time to travel to Mercury or Pluto is less that three months, aliens have no problem breathing our air or conversing with Earthlings. And so on ... For all these minor complaints, I would still put The Illustrated Man on my top ten short story collection listopia.

  13. 5 out of 5

    soleil

    Bradbury is unmatched. This collection serves as a constant inspiration and reminder to be better, in the hopes that one day I can inspire the awe and thrill that Bradbury's imagination and talent instilled in me. My uncle gifted me this book. When he was younger he collected every story Bradbury wrote through science fiction magazines in the mail. I am SO grateful to him for introducing me to more of Bradbury's stories.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ana-Maria Petre

    Bradbury is The Man. The stories comprised in this book are both disturbing and serene, ranging from the innocent cruelty of children to the desperate longing of Man for the deep, unknown outer space.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marko

    Oh Ray, you heart-stealer you...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Krystal

    What an incredible read this was! It's full of futuristic settings yet relevant, modern themes. I'm not normally into the sci-fi stuff but every single one of these stories was utterly captivating. These are the kind of stories that draw you in instantly, hold you tight and keep you thinking about them long after you finish reading. I had a couple of favourites: I loved the way The Rocket explored the power of the imagination, along with how the family dynamic was portrayed. I enjoyed the clevern What an incredible read this was! It's full of futuristic settings yet relevant, modern themes. I'm not normally into the sci-fi stuff but every single one of these stories was utterly captivating. These are the kind of stories that draw you in instantly, hold you tight and keep you thinking about them long after you finish reading. I had a couple of favourites: I loved the way The Rocket explored the power of the imagination, along with how the family dynamic was portrayed. I enjoyed the cleverness of Usher II, and its rebellion against censored creativity. I appreciated the simplicity of life in The Highway, and the chilling consequence of naive expectations of childhood innocence in Zero Hour. I loved the twists and the cliffhangers, and the more still chapters that invoked quiet contemplation. The compilation was assembled well, with a great balance of fast and slow to keep the brain working and the heart racing. I felt a full range of emotions reading this! The language is simple enough, and even the futuristic elements are easy to grasp and accept. The themes run deeper than the superficial stories, so if you're not a deep-thinker you may be underwhelmed or even confused by some of the tales. If, however, you're someone who likes to read between the lines and consider the human condition, you'll receive immense value from reading this. Different personalities will relate to different stories - as a writer and lover of the imagination, the stories with similar themes drew me in, however parents may prefer tales like The Veld or The Playground, with their parent-child relationships, and soul-searchers might enjoy mulling over Kaleidoscope, The Man, or The Last Night of the World. There is something in here for everyone; all tied together by the the man inked with these stories. It's a striking concept, and tattoo/visual art aficionados will appreciate the added image of illustrations coming to life as well as - hopefully - its symbolism. Highly recommend for all lovers of literature. The stories are short and sweet so easy to read, and the themes are varied enough to cater to all tastes. An absolute masterpiece of the written word.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    I am a very big fan of Ray Bradbury. He has an incredible imagination. He inspires me as a writer and a reader. I loved that this book has stories within a story. What an interesting idea of having a tattooed man as the "Scheherazade" in this story. The narrator is the body of a man who has tattoos all over himself. Each tattoo tells a story. Each story is different. Some are more science fiction-oriented and some are pure fantasy. Yes, Bradbury's view of outer space might be considered naive fo I am a very big fan of Ray Bradbury. He has an incredible imagination. He inspires me as a writer and a reader. I loved that this book has stories within a story. What an interesting idea of having a tattooed man as the "Scheherazade" in this story. The narrator is the body of a man who has tattoos all over himself. Each tattoo tells a story. Each story is different. Some are more science fiction-oriented and some are pure fantasy. Yes, Bradbury's view of outer space might be considered naive for a science purist, but consider that he wrote stories about space long before space-exploration and the study of space conditions began in earnest. Bradbury himself calls his stories science fantasy instead of science fiction. If you read "The Veldt" in reading class in school, this story can be found in this volume. "The Long Rains" is another story that comes to mind. I cannot remember all the stories in this collection, but I know that enjoyed reading them. If you like to read short stories that are fantasy or science-fiction-oriented, you should definitely pick this one up.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Interesting that Bradbury's aim with his writing was to make others "jealous of his joy", yet all of his stories are so dark! You can still hear him enjoying the telling of them :) Reminds me to get over my fears of running out of ideas or writing first to please others—therein, as friends have told me too, is the path to madness!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paul Falk

    This book was first published in 1951, a mere six years after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. By reference, the fear the atom bomb created had managed to threateningly worm its way into some of the short stories. There were many other accounts of death and total annihilation by one means or another though not necessarily at the hands of the "A bomb". The author may have likely found himself caught up with the overwhelming paranoia of the times that ran rampant in the world. These worr This book was first published in 1951, a mere six years after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. By reference, the fear the atom bomb created had managed to threateningly worm its way into some of the short stories. There were many other accounts of death and total annihilation by one means or another though not necessarily at the hands of the "A bomb". The author may have likely found himself caught up with the overwhelming paranoia of the times that ran rampant in the world. These worries were clearly expressed in his imaginative style of writing. There were eighteen outlandish short stories most of which had us either being invaded by or colonizing our neighboring planets. Mars by far the most popular. Commuting by rocket had become commonplace in Ray Bradbury's future of the 1960's, 70's and 80's. On a side note, with all the interplanetary travel going on, the author was not aware of nor either addressed the issues of weightlessness in Space - a biggie. Then again, it must be remembered, it was 1951. It sounds like the "Stone Ages". Some of the latest advances, actually gadgets that every household could not live without included: an electrical breakfast maker, mechanical book reader, food-delivery tubes, disposable clothing and remote control lawn mowers just to name a few. Wow! Looks like we've missed out! I'm reminded of the dreams and schemes that flourished back then. It was a thought-provoking ride. This was after all just a sample of one talented writer's indulgence into "Sci-Fi thinking" at the middle of the twentieth century." Hats off to Ray Bradbury.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Barrett

    Another great collection from a master short story teller... not to say that his novels are not also great. I wish I would have read this right after finishing The Martian Chronicles. It's a great accent to Bradbury's famous sci-fi masterpiece. Interestingly enough, though the stories ring of The Martian Chronicles, the collection begins with a tattooed (illustrated) man who has worked as an act in carnival freak shows. His story, which opens and closes the collection, brings to mind Something W Another great collection from a master short story teller... not to say that his novels are not also great. I wish I would have read this right after finishing The Martian Chronicles. It's a great accent to Bradbury's famous sci-fi masterpiece. Interestingly enough, though the stories ring of The Martian Chronicles, the collection begins with a tattooed (illustrated) man who has worked as an act in carnival freak shows. His story, which opens and closes the collection, brings to mind Something Wicked This Way Comes and overlays these sci-fi tales with a shade of horror. No one but Bradbury could have accomplished a work of art like this. Like staring at the inked illustrations on the mans body, Bradbury's skill at description and prose pulls the reader into the vivid world he inks on paper. As much as I would love to give this 5 stars, there were a couple of stories that just didn't wow me, and my rating is for the collection overall.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maryam

    Brilliant collection of dark , sci-fi short stories. Each story makes you think over and over that what would happen in future. While ago I watched Black Mirror Tv series and it reminded me again of this terrifying book. Technology and what it brings with itself can be really scary, coming from a software developer it's so lame, I know.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    "So much space. I liked the idea of nothing on top, nothing on the bottom, and a lot of nothing in between, and me in the middle of the nothing." This is my first time reading Ray Bradbury, and I've discovered that he has a very trippy and very twisted imagination... It's absolutely fantastic. The Illustrated Man is a really amazing story concept. There's this man who is covered head to toe in illustrations. Before the crazy body art, he wanted to make himself more unique in the world but ends up "So much space. I liked the idea of nothing on top, nothing on the bottom, and a lot of nothing in between, and me in the middle of the nothing." This is my first time reading Ray Bradbury, and I've discovered that he has a very trippy and very twisted imagination... It's absolutely fantastic. The Illustrated Man is a really amazing story concept. There's this man who is covered head to toe in illustrations. Before the crazy body art, he wanted to make himself more unique in the world but ends up getting more than he bargained for when he enters a witch's "SKIN ILLUSTRATION!" shop. He soon finds out rather unfortunately that all the illustrations on his body come alive, telling intricate stories, when the sun sets. Each illustration on the man's body is one of eighteen stories in this short story collection. Favorite stories: - The Veldt - The Rocket Man - The Exiles - The City - The Rocket One disappointment is that the story of the actual Illustrated Man wasn't more woven into the other short stories. Only the first two stories (The Veldt, The Other Foot) had some small references to the Illustrated Man, but the later stories completely dropped that idea. Still though, I really loved this collection and how creative Ray Bradbury is in every detail of all eighteen short stories. I recommend this collection to any dedicated science fiction and fantasy lover who isn't afraid of some morbid and ambiguous endings. 4.75

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris_P

    War is a bad thing, but peace can be a living horror Stories set in the future. Stories set in realities distant or not so distant from ours. Stories that linger on the doorway to... The Twiligh..... wow wow wow! I got carried away there! Although, I have to say, each of these stories could (and should) have been an episode of The Twilight Zone. A few of them could also be episodes of Black Mirror. There's no need to rate each separately. The Illustrated Man deserves all the stars I can give. War is a bad thing, but peace can be a living horror Stories set in the future. Stories set in realities distant or not so distant from ours. Stories that linger on the doorway to... The Twiligh..... wow wow wow! I got carried away there! Although, I have to say, each of these stories could (and should) have been an episode of The Twilight Zone. A few of them could also be episodes of Black Mirror. There's no need to rate each separately. The Illustrated Man deserves all the stars I can give. Although some are better than the others, all of them flirt with perfection. Bradbury gets his hands on matters that back then were possible in the distant future and today are certain in the near. It's not so much about techonology and its consequences as one may think. It's more about ethical matters adapted to the racing advancement of mankind. But the principal theme in all of the stories is the human psyche. This book was one of the rare cases of books that make me lose track of time while reading. It kept me up all night without me even noticing how fast minutes flew by. Favorites: The Veldt, Kaleidoskope, The Other Foot, Marionettes Inc., The Last Night of The World, Zero Hour.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Luke Kondor

    Rockets, Mars, spacemen, time travel. All told in that vivacious lovely prose that I expect from Bradbury. Some amazing stories and a few average ones. Here are my favourites: The Veldt Kaleidoscope The Last Night of the World (actually an amazingly sweet story that I plan to go back and re-read) The Fox and the Forest (time travelling cat and mouse story) The City (surprisingly gory) Zero Hour

  25. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    read this eons ago & still love it - short stories are so great - such a shame they don't get more support.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury  Because I was young, and my brain wasn't too crowded, the stories were indelibly branded on my brain. I'm almost afraid to revisit The Veldt, lest it disappoint. This was assigned reading in fifth or sixth grade, and the stories are deeply embedded in my brain.   ***   Bradbury is primarily known as a science fiction writer. It’s odd because he doesn’t write science fiction. In fact, he’s crap at science, but that doesn’t matter because he isn’t interested in tell The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury  Because I was young, and my brain wasn't too crowded, the stories were indelibly branded on my brain. I'm almost afraid to revisit The Veldt, lest it disappoint. This was assigned reading in fifth or sixth grade, and the stories are deeply embedded in my brain.   ***   Bradbury is primarily known as a science fiction writer. It’s odd because he doesn’t write science fiction. In fact, he’s crap at science, but that doesn’t matter because he isn’t interested in telling stories about how technological changes affect society. From that perspective he’s a grumpy old man who doesn’t approve of anything after, say, 1940, since which time everything has gone to hell in a handbasket. He isn’t a futurist certainly, he can’t imagine anything to come being of the slightest use or pleasure. The only good time was his childhood: he’s a huge fan of sitting out on porches on summer evenings drinking lemonade. Recorded music is nice, but really, it’s all just books and homemade pie. I’m guessing that he set so many stories on Mars out of sheer laziness: it’s really just an empty sound stage he can use for whatever story he has in mind. What he writes is philosophy, with a gimmick that would sell it. He asks the big questions: Why are we here? What does it all mean? Why are men* such fools? What does God mean in the context of a universe with many worlds? Re-reading what I’ve written so far, it seems like I don’t appreciate Bradbury, but I do. He’s a poet with a fine appreciation for a time and place that he evokes beautifully: the sights, the sounds, the tastes. And The Veldt made a huge impression on me, such that I remembered it vividly more than 30 years later. The rest of the collection, it turns out, I was no more than slightly familiar with; I couldn’t remember how any of them ended, for example.   *And I do mean men. He doesn’t bother with women much they can be wives and mothers but they don’t do anything else, even when he posits a future without the need for housework, he can’t conceive of women using that time for anything else, not work, not art, not even charity. He does give one wife of the future a job, but that’s war-work, not something she’d like to do for any reason whatsoever. Library copy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    As a newly-minted high school reading teacher, my introductory book to spoon-feed to the young'ns was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. It was a really good one to start with, as it had a fairly simple and uncomplicated storyline, a small cast of characters, and fairly well-defined themes and literary techniques. Therefore, teaching it to students who weren't native speakers (but whose English was really good nonetheless) was a good experience. I hadn't read a whole lot of Bradbury prior to that, an As a newly-minted high school reading teacher, my introductory book to spoon-feed to the young'ns was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. It was a really good one to start with, as it had a fairly simple and uncomplicated storyline, a small cast of characters, and fairly well-defined themes and literary techniques. Therefore, teaching it to students who weren't native speakers (but whose English was really good nonetheless) was a good experience. I hadn't read a whole lot of Bradbury prior to that, and really fell in love with the book. F451 was a great read, and something I'll review here once I've let it settle down a bit in my head. After all, I've spent the last couple of months teasing every shred of meaning I could out of it, and that's not the kind of review I write here, now is it? Reading the book gave me a new interest in reading Bradbury, so I picked up a couple of short story collections and started to make my way through them. While I was talking to my department head about it, she recommended that I read The Illustrated Man, a copy of which she just so happened to have sitting around. The Illustrated Man is a collection of eighteen short stories, more or less unrelated, but brought together under the larger, over-arching story of the Illustrated Man himself. Our narrator, you see, meets a large man on the road. The guy is covered with tattoos, of the highest quality. Their colors are vivid, their details are lifelike, and the man says that, at night, the tattoos come alive. They tell stories, if you watch them long enough. And if you watch them too long, you may see your own future as well.... Well, the narrator decides to watch as the Illustrated Man sleeps, and what he sees are the stories that are presented in this volume. By and large, the stories are unconnected to each other, which means we can go from a strange future where one family's house takes care of all their material needs to a poor farmer who manages to avoid the end of the world by being in one of his own. Still, there are a few thematic threads that run through the book that are interesting to look at. One of these themes is the way we relate to technology. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the first tale of the book, "The Veldt." In this story, we meet a family who are completely dependent on their house. It's a technological miracle, where everything is completely automatic. The thought of actually cooking a meal is tantamount to barbarism, and their idea of taking a vacation means just shutting down the more obsequious functions of the house. One of these is the children's nursery. Akin to the holodeck, this room can replicate any environment that the users want. The children's fascination with the savagery of the African savanna worries their parents, though, and the threat of having the room shut down eventually becomes more than the children - or the house - can tolerate. In "The Concrete Mixer," a Martian invasion force finds themselves overcome by the technology of Earth. Not the military technology, mind you, but the mindless, brain-destroying technology of leisure. Faced with TV and radio, casinos and bars, drive-in movies and fast food, the Martians discover that Earth is far more dangerous than they had ever expected. In "Marionettes, Inc," Bradbury weaves a tale worthy of Philip K. Dick, telling about a very special service that will create an exact android duplicate of yourself. This robot will do all the tedious things in your life, such as go to work, do chores and tolerate your spouse. But what if the perfect robot duplicates are too perfect, and decide that they don't really want to do the drudgery anymore? In "The City," a self-aware metropolis wakes up after twenty thousand years with the arrival of human astronauts - and immediately begins planning its revenge on those who left it so long ago. Another recurring theme in this collection is that of seeking happiness, through one means or another, and only occasionally finding it. In these stories, characters are looking for something that will make their lives worthwhile, or at the very least a little bit better. In "The Long Rain," a group of explorers on Venus want just one thing - to get out of the eternal, unceasing rain that pummels the planet. The Sun Domes are their only shelter, if they can find one before they die or go mad. In "No Particular Night or Morning," an astronaut searches for the only thing he can be absolutely sure of in this universe - nothingness. In "The Man," a group of interstellar explorers are looking for a being, who may or may not be Jesus Christ, going from planet to planet and always finding themselves just a little bit too late. In "The Rocket," a poor junkyard owner wants more than anything to fulfill his dream of showing his children outer space, and manages to do it in a slightly roundabout way. And in "Rocket Man," a father tries to find what he really wants - to live among the stars or to stay with his family on Earth, and ultimately realizes that he wants - but cannot have - both. The stories in here are all pretty good, and there were a few I want to touch on in more detail. The one that I took the most notes on was "The Other Foot," a tale of Mars and the shocking reversal of racial discrimination. In this story, Mars has been colonized by Black exiles from the United States, sent off-planet in an ultimate act of segregation. After decades of eking out an existence on that harsh planet, they learn that a rocket from Earth - probably containing a white astronaut - is on its way. The community reacts in a knee-jerk fashion, preparing a new apartheid on Mars - re-creating the worst of Jim Crow, only in reverse. When the rocket touches down and announces that nuclear war has destroyed everything the colonists had known and loved about Earth, and that white Americans had come to Mars to beg for the help of its citizens, the mob has a change of heart and decides to let bygones be bygones. As much as I hate post-modernism, I couldn't shut off my critic's voice while reading this story. I wondered if a story about Black oppression written by a white author must automatically be racist in nature, and I wondered if Bradbury's suggestion that Black colonists on Mars would, as a first reaction, try to re-create the worst conditions they had endured on Earth might not be rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of Black culture. Then the Intellectual Machine That Eats Itself (i.e. Postmodernism) began to ask if perhaps these thoughts were rooted in my own unacknowledged racism, at which point I had to just finish the damn story and move on. It's a question that probably wasn't asked fifty years ago, though, which makes the story an interesting one to revisit in our slightly more enlightened age. Another story that I really enjoyed was "The Exiles," which has also been titled "The Mad Wizards of Mars." In this tale, the great writes of fiction - and their works - are living (where else?) on Mars. There you can find Edgar Allan Poe and Ambrose Bierce living with Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. They're on Mars because Earth has been systematically destroying their works, and thus depriving them of immortality. When a rocket arrives from Earth carrying the last load of books to be destroyed, the fictionauts launch a last-ditch attempt to save themselves. With Poe leading their armies, they pour all of their power into stopping the rocket. Shakespeare's witches fling curses at the astronauts, and Poe summons all the armies of fiction to defend their existence. It's a story that you can tell Bradbury had a lot of fun writing, and is full of wonderful references to the authors he loves. Just the image of Edgar Allan Poe screaming defiance at the air is one that I will treasure every time I read the tale. What's really wonderful about this collection is that it's aged well. Published in 1951, it does suffer from some of the mid-century sci-fi tropes of the day, and modern writers would never be allowed to get away with something like a rainy Venus or humanity calmly accepting the end of the world. But they're still great stories, and well worth the read. So go read 'em.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Calarco

    Ray Bradbury’s unique style and voice shines through in The Illustrated Man. This collection is comprised of a series of short stories that are tied together on the back (literally) of the Illustrated Man, an enigmatic figure who is covered in tattoos. Look closely, and the inked images spin into tales of even stranger inklings. Building on the lore and intrigue of The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury further adds to the cannon storyline of his peculiar multiverse. My favorite entries, including: “T Ray Bradbury’s unique style and voice shines through in The Illustrated Man. This collection is comprised of a series of short stories that are tied together on the back (literally) of the Illustrated Man, an enigmatic figure who is covered in tattoos. Look closely, and the inked images spin into tales of even stranger inklings. Building on the lore and intrigue of The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury further adds to the cannon storyline of his peculiar multiverse. My favorite entries, including: “The Veldt,” “The Fox and Forest,” as well as “Marionettes, Inc.” all truly felt like stories etched onto the body of a mysterious vagrant. It is also this type of elevated, vivid, visually-driven horror that I could easily see being adapted into a Twilight Zone or Black Mirror esque creation. Departing from the horror, tales like “The Other Foot” and “The Rocket” that play with tension but are ultimately hopeful and sweet, are also worth mentioning. Perhaps they are indicative of the Illustrated Man’s softer inclinations? That’s hard to say. After all is said and done, I was still left a bit frustrated at not really knowing who the Illustrated Man really was at heart (or gaping blackhole where a heart should be located). Thematically diverse, these stories ultimately do not add up to a greater sum as eloquently as The Martian Chronicles, though nitpicking aside are still quite entertaining. Ultimately, The Illustrated Man is a good collection and has my recommendation. Bradbury wrote wholesome horror just as well as Agatha Christie wrote wholesome (murder) mystery, which is a tonally challenging milieu to pin down. Good stuff. Rating: 3.5 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I love short stories. To be able to pack such a punch in just a handful of pages, each word has to be meaningful, each metaphor perfect, each phrase exquisitely crafted and The Illustrated Man is chock-full of stories with staying power. As Bradbury mentions in his introduction, these stories are possible answers to "What if?" questions. Some are humorous, some downright frightening, some thought-provoking. He starts out with a bang: the short story "The Veldt." Those two children are straight ou I love short stories. To be able to pack such a punch in just a handful of pages, each word has to be meaningful, each metaphor perfect, each phrase exquisitely crafted and The Illustrated Man is chock-full of stories with staying power. As Bradbury mentions in his introduction, these stories are possible answers to "What if?" questions. Some are humorous, some downright frightening, some thought-provoking. He starts out with a bang: the short story "The Veldt." Those two children are straight out of a horror flick, as is the little girl in "Zero Hour." Yikes. Makes me want to pay more attention to what my children are doing when they are supposedly playing happily by themselves... The quiet resignation in "The Last Night of the World;" the sheer terror followed by grudging acceptance of the unthinkable in "Kaleidoscope;" the irresistible pull of the stars in "The Rocket Man;" the slow descent into insanity in "No Particular Night or Morning;" the father's love in "The Rocket." All beautifully done. It's hard to pick any one that sticks with me most, but I'll definitely be pondering the meaning of "The Man" for a long time to come. And the implicit message of equality and forgiveness and grace in "The Other Foot" was revolutionary for the time when it was written and published (1951, folks, more than a decade before the Civil Right Act). Good stuff... For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    The Illustrated Man is written in the iridescent language of those kaleidoscopic tattoos it tells us about… “The nursery was silent. It was empty as a jungle glade at hot high noon. The walls were blank and two dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. The c The Illustrated Man is written in the iridescent language of those kaleidoscopic tattoos it tells us about… “The nursery was silent. It was empty as a jungle glade at hot high noon. The walls were blank and two dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. The ceiling above them became a deep sky with a hot yellow sun.” Years pass by but the pictures remain as bright and vivid as new… “The music went up like a flight of pretty birds. He touched the keys like a man moving his hands among the weeds of a wild garden, startling up great soarings of beauty into the hills.” And the still music keeps echoing.

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