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The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

 

 

That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in 1951 is fair testimony to the universal appeal of Ray Bradbury’s work. Only his second collection (the first was Dark Carnival, later reworked into The October Country), it is a marvelous, if mostly dark, quilt of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In an ingenious framework to open and 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, and increasingly disturbing, is that the illustrations are themselves magically alive, and 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 though most were written in the 1940s and 1950s, these 18 classic stories will be just as chillingly effective 50 years from now. –Stanley Wiater

 

 

My Review

Ray Bradbury inspired many to take pen to paper; he enlightened many dark vessels and was a visionary beyond comparison. His sentences are laden with words in the right places with the right words.

This collection of stories only covers stories taken from illustrations on the illustrated mans body. We don’t get to walk with the illustrated man for long in fact only a few pages in the beginning. Don’t let this belittle the whole collection I want to just make it clear, because some could be disappointed to not to hear more about the man.

There are a few stories i cover below that hold startling truth and this was the magic of Bradbury contained also within Fahrenheit 451 he gave us a view on how things could be the way we live now in the future. At times beyond belief and unrealistic but thought provoking, food for thought.

The second half of this collection was less meaningful as the first a few sci-fi stories in other planet etc. with less depth.

What am I thinking even though maybe 5 stories really left a mark for me can I still rate this a five star?

Yes I say due to his hypnotic and emotionally potent voice and vision of terrible beauty.

His words are compared to ancient carvings in a tree that will stand the test of time I am sure.

 

 

 

There is a look at the Illustrated man in this excerpt..

 “Another reason I keep my collar buttoned up,’ he said, opening his eyes, ‘is the children. They follow me along country roads. Everyone wants to see the pictures, and yet nobody wants to see them.’

He took his shirt off and wadded it in his hands. He was covered with illustrations from the blue tattooed ring about his neck to his belt line.

‘It keeps right on going,’ he said, guessing my thought. ’ All of me is illustrated. Look.’ He opened is hand. On his palm was a rose, fresh cut, with drops of crystal water among the soft pink petals. I put my hand out to touch it, but was only an illustration.

As for the rest of him, I cannot say how I sat and stared, for 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 ad 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 is own activity; each was a separate gallery portrait.

‘Why, they’re beautiful!’ I said.”

 

And Ray Bradbury with some beautiful lines has the Man explain how stories are made from the illustrations on his body in the following excerpt.

 

“The sun was gone. Now the first stars were shining and the moon had brightened the fields of grass and wheat. Still the Illustrated Mans pictures glowed like charcoals in the half-light, like scattered rubies and emeralds, with Rouault colours and Picasso colours and the long, pressed-out El Greco bodies.

‘So people fire me when my pictures move. They don’t like it when violent things happen in my illustrations. Each illustration is a little story. If you watch them, in a few minutes they tell you a tale. In three hours of looking you could see eighteen or twenty stories acted right on my body, you could hear voices and think thoughts. It’s all here, just waiting for you to look. “

 

 

The Veld

 

A stark take on what the future could hold for those that buy into new technology for their well-being.

With a high number gadgetry available at present and a possible robotic future in our homes, Bradbury prophecies a future where you could buy a home designed to do everything for you bathe and clean you, relax you and entertain you.

Apple and Microsoft has developed leaps and bounds in engineering and changed the programming market. 3d TV and video gaming is now entering our household and this 3d thought room that Bradbury depicts could be true. There are so far video game consoles that require no controllers and track your body movements to interact in the gaming. In the

In fiction and not the real world yet, there’s a movie Tron where a video gamer could enter a gaming world, avatar and matrix that depicted similar interactions with another dimension and don’t forget that me Jumanji with robin Williams where a board game comes to life and lions are running havoc around the home. The only development so far is the first one gaming with no controllers.

In this story you will find a room that can be fitted up and bought for your kids enjoyment. But beware this sort of interaction is on a completely different level instead of a computer reacting to your body movements it behaves in tune with your psyche. The kids in this story are in an African veldt with lions. They smell and feel the wild the hot sun shining down.

It’s all artificial and not real if it was it would be deadly with lions roaming around.

Kids are addicted enough in this day and age to video gaming, TV and the Internet. This kind of technology I doubt will be any good for the future and could prove to be problematic.

The characters in this story, kids, wanted to keep the room against their parents wishes and as the dispute arises matters turn to a very dark end.

 

This story is a fine example of the kind of visionary Ray Bradbury had, a colourful vibrant and dark sneak peak into the future. Great story it’s making me want to re-read Fahrenheit 451 all over again.

 

 

Kaleidoscope

 

In this short story Bradbury puts forward some deep food for thought here in these notable lines worth re-reading in this excerpt.

 “And it was not. It was gone. When life is over it is like a flicker of bright film, an instant on the screen, all of its prejudices and passions condensed and illuminated for an instant on space, and before you could cry out, ‘ There was a happy day, there was a bad one, there an evil face, there a good one,’ the film burned to a cinder, the screen went dark.

From this outer edge of life, looking back, there was only one remorse, and that was only that he wished to go on living.

Did all dying people feel his way, as if they had never lived?

Did life seem that short, indeed, over and done before you took a breath?

Did it seem this abrupt and impossible to everyone, or only to himself, here, now, with a few hours left to him for thought and deliberation?

(A rather comical response from one character)

One of the other men, Lespere, was talking. ‘Well, I had me a good time: I had a wife on Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. Each of them had money and treated me swell. I got drunk and once I gambled away twenty thousand dollars.”

 

The Other Foot

 

This excerpt describes the situation quite clearly. A situation of segregation coming to a possible end here or was it a matter of survival?

 “ ‘Tell us some more!’

‘Well, ‘the white people live on Earth, which is where we all come from, twenty years ago. We just up and walked away and came to Mars and set down and built town’s and here we are. Now, were Martians instead of Earth people. And no white me’ve come up here in all that time. That’s the story.’

‘Why didn’t they come up, Mom?’

‘Well, ‘cause. Right after we got up here, Earth got in a atom war. They blew each other up terribly. They forgot us. When they finished fighting, after years, they didn’t have any rockets. Took them until recently to build more. So here they come now, twenty years later, to visit.’

A recollection on the past found in the following excerpt and the consequences of the war in this story.

 

“It was stirring them now. After twenty years it was rushing back. The towns and the places, the trees and the brick buildings, the signs and the churches and the familiar stores, all of it was coming to the surface among the gathered people. Each name touched memory, ad there was no one present without a thought of another day. They were all old enough for that, save the children.

‘Laredo.’

‘I remember Laredo.’

‘New York City.’

‘I had a store in Harlem.’

‘Harlem, bombed out.’

The ominous words. The familiar, remembered places.

The struggle to imagine all of those places in ruins.

Willie Johnson murmured the words,’Greenwater, Alabama. That’s where I was born, I remember.’

Gone. All of it gone. The man said so.

The man continued, ‘So we destroyed everything and ruined everything, like the fools that we were and the fools that we are. We killed millions. I don’t think there are more than five hundred thousand people left in the world, all kinds and types.

 

Another excerpt few pages later..

“Willie stood with the rope in his hands.

He was remembering Earth, the green Earth and the green town where he was born and raised, and he was thinking now of that town, gone to pieces, to ruin, blown up ad scattered, all of the landmarks with it, all of the hard men gone, the stables, the iron-smiths, the curio shops, the soda founts, the gin mills, the river bridges, the lynching trees, the buckshot-covered hills, the roads, the cows, the mimosas, and his own house as well as those big-pillared houses down near the long river, those white mortuaries where the women as delicate as moths fluttered in the autumn light, distant, far away. Those houses where the old men rocked, with glasses of drink in their hands, guns leaned against the porch newels, sniffing the autumn airs and considering death. Gone, all gone; gone and never coming back. Now, for certain, all of that civilization ripped into confetti and strewn at their feet. Nothing, nothing of it left to hate- not an empty brass gun shell, or twisted hemp, or a tree, or even a hill of it to hate. Nothing but some alien people in a rocket, people who might shine his shoes and ride in the back of trolleys or sit far up in midnight theatres….”

Read another classic of his the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes review @ https://more2read.com/review/something-wicked-way-comes-ray-bradbury/

Check out these videos with Ray Bradbury…

Ray Bradbury Gives 12 Pieces of Writing Advice to Young Authors–An Evening with Ray Bradbury 2001

Ray Bradbury on Writing Persistently

Meet Ray Bradbury (video)

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 01 July 2012

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