The Illustrated Man has been in print--continuously--for over 50 years, since its first publication in 1951. Though the language feels dated at times, reflecting the social and political feelings of 1940s/50s America, this does not detract from the message of each story. Bradbury has lasting, universal appeal. He has a fantastic gift for exploring the human consciousness in his characters. While Bradbury is most always categorized as a science fiction writer, his work more truly explores the territory of the human mind and our place in the universe with brilliant imagination, wit, darkness, and a sense of wistfulness.
The stories in this collection are loosely tied together by a prologue and epilogue, wherein a blank-slate narrator meets a stranger whose body is covered in mysterious tattoos. Each tattoo tells a story, and these are the stories told here.
Opening with the classic and chilling story "The Veldt," Bradbury explores themes that he revisits throughout his works--most notably, technology and our relationship to it. Two children have become completely dependent upon their household technology, and essentially want to replace their parents with it. Chilling and superbly told, this is a story that can be read again and again without losing freshness.
Other stories found here include a desolate tale of astronauts shipwrecked in space, combative aliens confused by utterly compliant humans on Earth, and a humanoid robot who is perhaps more real than his human counterpart.
Bradbury's tales here are not the sort that will intrigue readers with complex gadgetry or detailed aliens, but are dark, insightful tales of human folly and our relationship with technology, society, our children, and ourselves. The elements of rockets, robots, astronauts and aliens give the framework in which Bradbury explores people, and what is truly chilling is perhaps that we have not changed; that these tales still ring eerily accurate.
Ray Bradbury's haunting tale [reminiscent of "Sailing to Byzantium] is a precursor for altered states of reality & the question of what it means to exist in muliple dimensional planes. Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" is yet another fine example for the power of slipping and becoming "un-stuck in time"