- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 25 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 8 Oct. 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQFHJ8
The Illustrated Man Audio Download – Unabridged
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|Audio Download, Unabridged, 8 Oct 2009||
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.