Lyn's Reviews > The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
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Feb 04, 12

Read from January 29 to February 04, 2012

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old uncle who drinks too much at parties and who makes embarrassing comments, but who everyone likes in spite of his outdated ways – kind of a loveable rogue.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 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.
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