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The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury
Reissued by Avon Books, 1997
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback, large print, audiobook
Amazon.ca: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover, paperback
Highly Recommended by: Ross Pavlac
[The Illustrated Man]

Book Rating
Rated 3 (Highly Recommended) by: 7 people
Rated 2 (Recommended) by: 5 people
Rated 1 (Suggested) by: nobody
Rated 0 (Reviewed) by: nobody
Total Votes: 12 people
Average Rating: 2.58 (Highly Recommended)
Score: 2.58 (Highly Recommended)

Note especially "The Man", a powerful, classic story that posits Jesus will incarnate on any world where intelligent life arises. (Also found in numerous other collections.)


Other comments:

The Illustrated Man is not actually a novel, but an collection of short stories. There is a narrative which weaves them together. "'For, you see,' said the Illustrated Man, 'these Illustrations predict the future.'" In the half-century since these stories were first published, new technologies and discoveries have made concepts like clockwork robots and jungles on Venus seem a bit obsolete, but Bradbury has a vivid imagination, and the gift of expressing his thoughts in extremely evocative words. Together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, he had a huge impact on the imagination of those writers who came after science fiction's "Golden Age." (Which was not, perhaps, quite so golden as some would lead you to believe, but neither was it quite so devoid of scientific knowledge, characterisation, and convincing dialogue as others would have you believe, either.)

There are two stories of particular interest to Christians in this collection. In "The Man", travellers from Earth land on a planet, only to discover that their marvellous appearance has been upstaged by the arrival of Christ the previous day. This is the first story I came across which dealt with the concept of Christ visiting other planets than ours, and it still resonates. (Although the plot has since been copied many times.) In "The Fire Balloons", missionaries from Earth encounter aliens who do not sin. (Now, C.S. Lewis did it better in Out of the Silent Planet, and Bradbury neglects the fact that there are many sins – such as pride – which do not require a physical body, but still, it's a concept which few authors would have imagined.) (May, 1999) – Greg Slade


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