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4.6 out of 5 stars51
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2005
This is one of the best collections of Ray Bradbury short stories to be found. The Illustrated Man of the title is a fairground worker who is covered in tattoos, or 'illustrations'. While he sleeps the illustrations move and each one tells a different story to anyone who may see them. Although the descriptions of rockets and technology may seem a little dated now, these are still excellent stories for any true fan of sci-fi. Particularly good are 'The Veldt' a story of two children and their virtual reality nursery and 'The Long Rain', a tale of astronauts who crash land on Venus. This is certainly a Classic of modern literature and I would highly recommend it for any bookshelf.
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on 6 August 2010
This is another collection of short stories connected by a tenuous theme - they're the stories told by someone's tattoos - but this time it's intended to be a bunch of shorts, and most of them are good, a few are outstanding, only a couple are bad, and none are awful. And three are utterly brilliant. Originally published a couple of zears before Fahrenheit 451, the connections are obvious in two of the stories - two of the best stories at that.

The theme of the man of the title's tattoos provides a nice lead-in to the first story, and the epilogue provides a satisfactory end, but in all honesty those two sections could have been dropped entirely. I'd not be at all surprised to find that the individual stories have also been published independently of them.

The stories are a mixture of science fiction and fantasy, almost all of them character-based, most concentrating on human weaknesses and relationships. The successful ones, however, do have at least some action in them too: it's only the two stinkers in which nothing happens except blathering.

Note that the UK and US editions differ: I read the UK edition, which omits four stories from the US version and adds two others. As it happens, I feel that the two added are amongst the best in the book.
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on 11 June 2010
This is a fantastic collection of science-fiction/horror stories from the boundless imagination of Ray Bradbury.

The books begins with a chance meeting between two wanderers, one of whom is extensively tattooed all over his body (or 'Illustrated' as Bradbury beautifully puts it) the tattooed stranger explains that he is searching for the woman who gave him his tattoos to kill her. He states the tattoos are cursed and come to life every night. The enthralled stranger then watches as the ink comes to life each one telling a different story.

The premise of stories within a story is brilliant and using tattoos as a medium to tell them is both extraordinary but also wonderfully creative.

Although the short stories are all science fiction based there is a good variety of stories. The reason I also termed them 'horror' is that there is a good deal of death and violence in the stories although not excessively so. The stories really get under your skin and will stay with you forever (ironically not unlike the illustrations themselves)

Well worth a read and (in my opinion) Bradbury's best book to date.
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As the line in the film went which showed three of the stories from the anthology. And it is this line which best exemplifies the difference between common all garden short stories and the true work of art. Anyone with a needle and ink can make a tattoo that makes a statement from a mermaid or heart that says mother. But it takes an artist to create a skin illustration that goes beyond a statement and tells a story an art that Bradbury demonstrates in each tale. Not only does he tell a story but he also leaves you at the end of each one with questions gnawing away in your consciousness. Questions such as "What if that could really happen?" or "What if it was me?"

Like all great works art after your first encounter, it leaves an indelible impression on your soul very much like a tattoo, or should that be skin illustration?
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on 27 March 2003
What is most interesting about this book is the reflection of science fiction in the 1950s and 60s. While we have the technology and the visual effects nowadays, people during that time only had their imaginations and a fuzzy television set. Bradbury's intensity in his stories are full of the depth of character, philosophy, life, and mind. During the "Long Rain," he brings in the idea of how far a man will go in such a relentless environment of pouring rain on another planet. He also is quite subtle in his vision of what the world would be like when we get to the end of the world and how would we actually react to this adversity. In essence, do not read this book to find some "Matrix-style" action and science fiction, but the reactions of people in different situations in the future and the way some things could be. If you are intrigued by thinking of books and films long after you've finished with them, then I think you will really like this book.
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VINE VOICEon 6 November 2006
I originally came across this book when I had to read some of the short stories in it for school years ago I liked it then and have always wanted to go back and finish the other stories but never had the chance until recently. Each of the sixteen short stories are brought together by the preface that sets each story as a scene depicted on the body of the Illustrated Man as witnessed by a traveller he meets on the way. Each tale is usually quite dark with lots of death, betrayal and warnings about censorship and tyranny. Written in the fifties the book does give a good outlook on what people of those times thought the future would hold and it is quite fun to see what has happened and what hasn't. The tales are very well written and although they are quite short they are always good and interesting.
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Bradbury was better at short stories than novels, I believe, as were many authors of his time such as Asimov. In this collection of shorts, a tenuous link is added which is that a young drifter meets a carnival worker who has a body covered with illustrations which move, if looked at closely, and tell stories. Quite possibly the title occurred to Bradbury first and he then set about drawing up the situation.

The stories vary widely and the most memorable are:
A story of a very realistic nursery in which the walls continually depict lions on the veldt, to the discomfort of the children's parents - the children control the images. But it's only TV isn't it?
A group of soldiers are trying to make it across a planet where it never stops raining to a safe dome hidden in the jungle. The constant humidity and heat mean fungus sprouts on your food if you don't eat it quickly, and will the dome be intact when they get there?
A planet is told that the world will end overnight. What would you do? A couple are trying to come to terms with this and we realise that there is nothing they can do that will change anything.

The other tales are less memorable but all give immense food for thought. This was filmed years ago and the above tales were included, though others were omitted.
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on 31 July 2013
This is a review of the British (Flamingo Modern Classic) edition of The Illustrated Man, which contains a different set of stories from the American edition.

Ray Bradbury's work lies at the 'softer', more fantastic end of the science-fiction spectrum. In these short stories the rockets, robots and (not so) alien environments are not the centre of attention. They serve as props in dramas that focus on human hopes, fears and failings. Of the recurring themes the most notable is the amoral and capricious nature of children.

This collection isn't as consistent as Bradbury's best work (The Martian Chronicles, for example). Some of the stories lack subtlety and proceed in a pedestrian fashion towards a conclusion that is obvious from the first few lines. However, there are flashes of brilliance: idiosyncratic ideas and images that linger in the mind, such as astronauts tumbling through space and the rains of Venus. The most rewarding story is the last, The Playground, in which Bradbury provides an evocative, compelling narrative with a haunting conclusion.
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on 10 June 2006
Ray Bradbury was an amazing and futuristic writer, and he used the 'illustrated man' concept as an ingenious way of linking 18 short stories. A man is on a walking holiday in Wisconsin, it's a hot day and he meets a guy who has his clothing buttoned up tight as if it is winter, and he is sweating, of course. They camp down for the night, and the guy takes off his thick shirt. His body is covered in illustrations, (not tattoos), and they are beautiful, they move, and have tiny voices. He tells how he met an old witch who looked a thousand years old one minute, and twenty one the next, and after she illustrated his entire body with her magic needles, she disappeared. Believing her to be a time-traveller, the man has spent his life trying to hunt her down. The series of short stories are linked by the other man seeing the actions take place within the illustrations. A brilliant concept, amazing stories considering when they were written, and I book I have treasured for many years.
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I shouldn't like Ray Bradbury's stuff, for the most part - its all about ideas, its short stories, you never know if what you get will be horror or sci-fi or fantasy. I like adventures, explosions, robots and rayguns. And yet I love reading Bradbury. It’s a mystery to me.

The Illustrated Man is more than 60 years old now: it’s a fix-up of previously published short stories in a pretty flimsy framing: but even the frame is a nice little story (and a variant of an illustrated man turns up in Something Wicked This Way Comes - in fact, the more I read of Bradbury the more I realise everything references everything else). There is horror here, and sci-fi, and some of it is really high fantasy that happens to be set in space: all of the 15 plus short stories are different. The Veldt is a favourite, as is a story set on rainy Venus, and also a story about a couple on the run through time. All this in 250 pages? Yes, and well worth reading.

Its typical Bradbury - not that there is any other kind.
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