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21st August 2014
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The Illustrated Man

1951

Book: The Illustrated Man

Author: Ray Bradbury

Recollections...

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Well, I don't know when I first came across this. Before video, because I had to buy the book.
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In Depth

The Illustrated Man

Powerful, lyrical, sometimes horrific – Bradbury’s masterwork.

This collection of short stories is framed by the ingenious conceit of a traveller who encounters a man covered in pictures. These illustrations come to life and tell a series of tales.

Written in the late 1940s/early 1950s, the book is an effective mirror of post-war concerns. Many of the characters live under conditions of oppressive fear.

The stories have an aura of lyrical horror - some terrifying, others sad and evocative. The Fox and the Forest is a moving tale about a married couple fleeing through time to the present day to escape a future war. The Veldt prefigures virtual reality with a children’s nursery which shows scenes that prove a little too real.

Other stories include The City, a gruesome story about an expedition to a seemingly deserted alien city, and Kaleidoscope, a tale about the aftermath of an accident in space which was the inspiration for cult film Dark Star.

The collection concludes with the narrator seeing the final story take shape on the Illustrated Man’s body in a stark and shocking climax.

Not for laughs, this is serious, visionary science fiction which, despite some rather quaint-seeming depictions of rockets, stands the test of time today.

A 1969 film sadly failed to capture the wonder and power of the stories.

Work nominated by BeebWolf.

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