The Illustrated Man

I’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s the Road – I really am rather taken with it, it is dreamlike, drearily poetic and bleak but I loved the father and son, very much so. In that bleak, dead world they are two figures who bring colour into it. The boy is meant to be more, I guess, a symbol of renewing love and forgiveness. He is decidedly opposed to his father resorting to violent means – which he does to protect the boy. Great contrast there, I thought, i loved them and felt for them. I couldn’t pick up another thing for a bit but after moping around for some 48 hours, I decided to get on with Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man.

Curious premise. A man whose skin is full of pictures that come alive at night. He has stories in them.

The Veldt – arrogant children play a dangerous game with disinterested parents. It’s a tragic but in some ways relevant story. Lack of closeness made up for by a virtual room which eventually becomes meaning and cruel, downright murderous.

The rocket man – a story about a man always enticed to go back to space. There are some evocative description of stars and space here. But on the other hand there is a family left behind. This was quite emotional.

The man – a story about faith. After a ship lands on a planet, they find out something much bigger has happened…it irks the captain who then goes on a wild goose chase, always missing the point and the timing – lack of belief and faith, and perhaps refusing to see what is right in front of you.

The last night of the world – the end of the world is as ordinary as any other day, everyone knows it’s coming and no one makes a ruckus. They accept it. You don’t scream about the real thing. It’s logical. Acceptance is peace, though they talk about it a little like about a breakup, things just didn’t work out. We weren’t so bad, but we were just us…while plenty of other were many nasty things out there – too passive, indifferent, busy with own lives. It’s logical, nothing else could have happened from the way we lived. Making excuses and rationalising is more comfortable rather than facing things. The story has made me think of a few things.

[I stopped here to think of a VASTLY different poem by Czesław Miłosz, written in 1943/1944, especially of the repeating line: ” No other end of the world there will be”, it’s been haunting me for years. It’s a poem with a vision of an “ordinary” end of the world, Milosz created a purposefully tranquil, simple, buccolic image and the remarkable force of the last line lingers on, especially powerful in the context in which it was written. Tragedy happens but ordinary things continue and it’s difficult to believe this is how the world ends. Yet it does. The old man from the poem signals the end happens all the time, everyday, for someone, somewhere. It’s subliminally powerful]

The long rain – an evocative story set on Venus. A group is looking for sun domes amidst a dreary unfriendly rain, but when they find out, it turns out it’s not what they expected. I liked the atmosphere.

Kaleidoscope – a group of astronauts gets spaced and they are flung in different directions.

The other foot and the highway didn’t do much for me. I didn’t get the highway at all. The other foot is interesting though: about how the arrival of the first white man on Mars inhabited by people of African american origin sparks unrest and vengeful feelings. This could have perhaps been a little more.

Exiles – I thought of it as a creative other side to Fahrenheit. On Mars, authors whose works are burned on earth are still alive, in hiding. rocket comes with books of the old days  and to mark a new start, end the old. But, what are authors if their works perish?  Oe of my favourites in the collection.

No particular Night or Morning – Was a rather pessimistic story. Things happen on space ship, and it profoundly affects one man, one man who dreamed of stars and one that questions things he doesn’t have next to him.

“We’re all fools,” said Clemens, “all the time. It’s just we’re a different kind each day. We think, I’m not a fool today. I’ve learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we’re not perfect and live accordingly.”

Fox and forest – Really enjoyed this one. What if we could all time travel freely?

The Visitor – interesting ideas here. A man banished on Mars, parched for home gets a sdden goift in the form of another man who can evoke illusions of the home. The man;s gift becomes a thing to covet and protect.

The concrete mixer – A martian tries to avoid invading earth but when he eventually gets there, things aren’t quite as he thought they would be. a story about how modern invasions may be, how we might all be living through some, I’d say.

Marionettes, Inc – another one of my favourites. What if we could make a very life-like marionette to replace us?

The City – loved the idea, chilling atmosphere, again a favourite.  A group of humans come to a certain city on a certain planet but as always things aren’t as simple as they may want.

Zero Hour – children are again the focus here. And again, it’s rather chilling. They innocently play invasions but what if there’s more to it?

The rocket I found this one lovely, just like The rocket man, but this one was sweeter. A man who cannot afford a rocket or travel to Mars, tries to take matters in his own hands. Sometimes, dreams and reality can perhaps be reconciled if you work very hard and a gift of imagination is also one to treasure.

The last story is the story of The Illustrated Man, followed by a somewhat suspenseful epilogue.

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