February 22nd, 2020

Book 18 - 2018

Book 18: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury - 281 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
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.

I can't quite remember the details, but on a TV show some years ago (I think!) I heard about this book. Bradbury tells 18 short stories, mostly involving Mars, through the vehicle that is the canvas of tattoos on the body of the nameless 'Illustrated Man'. The why of these tattoos is never really answered, and I was never entirely sure that the stories the tattoos told where meant to be set all in the same world, though they certainly share characteristics, where relevant. The short stories are good, many pondering the fascinating challenges of multiple worlds, travelling through space, and technology. My favourites were The Veldt (which was beyond creepy), The Rocket (really sweet), Marionettes, Inc (again, very creepy), The City (also creepy) and Zero Hour (both creepy but also really made me think). The stories suffer a little with age; given the era Bradbury was writing in, some of the terminology used has dated. But this also gives it an charming feel; a bit like watching old Star Trek episodes. Certainly valid evidence for why Bradbury is one of the greats!

18 / 50 books. 36% done!

5753 / 15000 pages. 38% done!

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