The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburySeptember 2, 2011
The Book: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. Originally published in 1951, the edition read was published by Bantam in or around 1972.
The Setting: Rural Wisconsin, a near present.
The Story: Two guys meet on the road and have dinner. One of them has a lot of tattoos. Tattoos that each have their own special story to tell. Convenient, that.
The Science: Well, the idea is that these tattoos move and bring watchers into a story. And going into any single story is a bit silly, so let’s talk about tattoos. Tattoos have been a part of civilization since at least the Neolithic. Ever heard of Otzi, the Iceman found under a receding glacier in the Alps? He died about 6000 years ago and he had tattoos. Their purpose is unknown, but that doesn’t stop scientist from guessing (because we like to guess. It’s fun.). Imagine if 6000 years in the future archaeologists uncover a few bodies with tattoos – what will those people be? Priests? An elite caste? Healers? Or just another dude with a tribal armband?
The Reaction: The connective tissue of the illustrated man is fair, and the stories run the gamut from classics to forgettable. The book itself is a classic, and probably the Bradbury short story collection to read if you only want to do it once.
The Cover: An illustrated man sits naked upon a poorly constructed platform in a place which is distinctly NOT rural Wisconsin. The cover bores me. I don’t want to talk about it.
Next Up: City at World’s End by Edmond Hamilton.