The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man

4.6 80
by Ray Bradbury

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The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury - a collection of tales that breathe and move, animated by sharp, intaken breath and flexing muscle. Here are eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin - visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body. The images, ideas,…  See more details below


The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury - a collection of tales that breathe and move, animated by sharp, intaken breath and flexing muscle. Here are eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin - visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body. The images, ideas, sounds and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast, empty space of stars and blackness...the sight of gray dust selling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere...the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets. Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth, widely believed to be one of the Grandmaster's premier accomplishments: as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Bradbury is an authentic original.” —Time

“Ray Bradbury has accomplished what very few artists do. With his visions of possible futures and edgy presents . . . he has changed us.” —The Boston Globe

“His stories and novels are part of the American language.” —The Washington Post

“Deftly plotted, beautifully written, characterized by protagonists who are intensely real . . . there is no writer quite like Ray Bradbury.” —The New York Times

“A master... Bradbury has a style all his own, much imitated but never matched.” —Portland Oregonian

Product Details

Buccaneer Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.85(h) x 0.74(d)

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It was a warm afternoon in early September when I first met the Illustrated Man. Walking along an asphalt road, I was on the final long of a two weeks' walking tour of Wisconsin. Late in the afternoon I stopped, ate some pork, beans, and a doughnut, and was preparing to stretch out and read when the Illustrated Man walked over the hill and stood for a moment against the sky.

I didn't know he was Illustrated then. I only know that he was tall, once well muscled, but now, for some reason, going to fat. I recall that his arms were long, and the hands thick, but that his face was like a child's, set upon a massive body.

He seemed only to sense my presence, for he didn't look directly at me when he spoke his first words.

"Do you know where I earn find a job?"

"I'm afraid not," I said.

"I hadn't bad a job that's lasted in forty years," he said.

Though it was a hot late afternoon, he wore his wool shirt buttoned tight about his neck. His sleeves were rolled and buttoned down over his thick wrists. Perspiration was streaming from his face, yet he made no move to open his shirt.

"Well," he said at last, "this is as good a place as any to spend the night. Do you mind company."

"I have some extra food you'd be welcome to," I said.

He sat down heavily, grunting. 'You'll be sorry you asked me to stay," he said. "Everyone always is. That's why I'm walking. Here it is, early. September, the cream of the Labor Day carnival season. I should be making money hand over fist at any small town side show celebration, but here I am with no prospects."

He took off an immense shoe and peered at it closely. "I usually keep a job about ten days. Then something happens and they fireme. By now every carnival in America won't touch me with a ten-foot pole."

"What seems to be the trouble?" I asked.

For answer, he unbuttoned his tight collar, slowly. With his eyes shut, he put a slow hand to the task of unbuttoning his shirt all the way down. He slipped his fingers in to feel his chest. "Funny," he said, eyes still shut. 'You can't feel them but they're there. I always hope that someday I'll look and they'll be gone. I walk in the sun for hours on the hottest days, baking, and hope that my sweat'll wash them off, the sun'll cook them off, but at sundown they're still there." He turned his head slightly toward me and exposed his chest. "Are they still there now?"

After a long while I exhaled. "Yes," I said. "They're still there."

The Illustrations.

"Another reason I keep my collar buttoned up," he said, opening his eyes, "is the children. They follow me along country roads. Everyone wants to see the pictures, and yet nobody wants to see them."

He took his shirt off and wadded it in his hands. He was covered with Illustrations from the blue tattooed ring about his neck to his belt line.

"It keeps right on going," he said, guessing my thought. "All of me is Illustrated. Look." He opened his hand. On his palm was a rose, freshly cut, with drops of crystal wake among the soft pink petals. I put my hand out to touch it, but it was only an Illustration.

As for the rest of him, I cannot say how I sat and stared, for be was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voices murmuring small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body. When his flesh twitched, the tiny mouths flickered, the tiny green-and-gold eyes winked, the tiny pink hands gestured. There were yellow meadows and blue rivers and mountains and stars and suns and planets spread in a Milky Way across his chest. The people themselves were in twenty or more odd groups upon his arms, shoulders, back, sides, and wrists, as well as on the flat of his stomach. You found them in forests of hair, lurking among a constellation of freckles, or peering from armpit caverns, diamond eyes aglitter. Each seemed intent upon his own activity, each was a separate gallery portrait.

"Why, they're beautiful!" I said.

How can I explain about his Illustrations? If El Greco had painted miniatures in his prime, no bigger than your hand, infinitely detailed, with all his sulphurous color, elongation, and anatomy, perhaps he might have used this man's body for his art. The colors burned in three dimensions. They were windows looking in upon fiery reality. Here, gathered on one wall, were all the finest scenes in the universe the man was a walking treasure gallery. This wasn't the work of a cheap carnival tattoo man with three colors and whisky on his breath. This was the accomplishment of a living genius vibrant, clear, and beautiful.

"Oh, yes," said the Illustrated Man. "I'm so proud of my Illustrations that I'd like to burn them off. I've tried sandpaper, acid, a knife . . ."

The sun was setting. The moon was already up in the East.

"For, you see," said the Illustrated Man, "these Illustrations predict the future."

I said nothing.

"It's all right in sunlight," he went on.

"I would keep a carnival day job. But at night--the pictures move. The pictures change."

I must have smiled. "How long have you been Illustrated?"

"In 1900, when I was twenty years old and working a carnival, I broke my leg. It laid me up; I had to do something to keep my band in, so I decided to get tattooed."

"But who tattooed you? What happened to the artist?"

"She went back to the future," he said. "I mean it. She was an old woman in a little house in the middle of Wisconsin here somewhere not far from this place. A little old witch who looked a thousand years old one moment and twenty years old the next, but she said she could travel in time. I laughed. Now, I know better."

"How did you happen to meet her?"

He told me. He had seen her painted sign by the road SKIN ILLUSTRATION! Illustration instead of tattoo! Artistic! So he had sat all night while her magic needles stung him wasp stings and delicate bee stings. By morning he looked like a man who had fallen into a twenty color print press and been squeezed out, all bright and picturesque.

"I've hunted every summer for fifty years," he said, putting his hands out on the air. "When I find that witch I'm going to kill her."

The sun was gone. Now the first stars were shining and the moon had brightened the fields of grass and wheat. Still the Illustrated Man's pictures glowed like charcoals in the half light, like scattered rubies and emeralds, with Rouault colors and Picasso colors and the long, pressed out El Greco bodies.

"So people fire me when my pictures move. They don't like it when violent things happen in my Illustrations. Each Illustration is a little story. If you watch them, in a few minutes they tell you a tale. In three hours of looking you could see eighteen or twenty stories acted right on my body, you could hear voices and think thoughts. It's all here, just waiting for you to look. But most of all, there's a special spot on my body." He bared his back. "See?" There's no special design on my right shoulder blade, just a jumble."

"Yes. "

"When I've been around a person long enough, that spot clouds over and fills in. If I'm with a woman, her picture comes there on my back, in an hour, and shows her whole life-how she'll live, how she'll die, what she'll look like when she's sixty. And if it's a man, an hour later his picture's here on my back. It shows him falling off a cliff, or dying under a. train. So I'm fired again."

All the time he had been talking his hands had wandered over the Illustrations, as if to adjust their frames, to brush away dust--the motions of a connoisseur, an art patron. Now he lay back, long and full in the moonlight. It was a warm night. There was no breeze and the air was stifling. We both had our shirts off.

"And you'll never found the old woman?"


"And you think she came from the future?"

"How else could she know these stories she painted on me?"

He shut his eyes tiredly. His voice grew fainter. "Sometimes at night I can fed them, the pictures, like ants, crawling on my skin. Then I know they're doing what they have to do. I never look at them any more. I just try to rest. I don't sleep much. Don't you look at them either, I warn you. Turn the other way when you sleep."

I lay back a few feet from him. He didn't seem violent, and the pictures were beautiful. Otherwise I might have been tempted to get out and away from such babbling. But the Illustrations . . . I let my eyes fill up on them. Any person would go a little mad with such things upon his body.

The night was serene. I could bear the Illustrated Man's breathing in the moonlight. Crickets were stirring gently in the distant ravines. I lay with my body sidewise so I could- watch the Illustrations. Perhaps half an hour passed. Whether the Illustrated Man slept I could not tell, but suddenly I heard him whisper, 'They're moving, aren't they?"

I waited a minute.

Then I said, "Yes."

The pictures were moving, each in its turn, each for a brief minute or two. There in the moonlight, with the tiny tinkling thoughts and the distant sea voices, it seemed, each little drama was enacted. Whether it took an hour or three hours for the dramas to finish, it would be hard to say. I only know that I lay fascinated and did not move while the stars wheeled in the sky.

Eighteen Illustrations, tighten tales. I counted them one by one.

Primarily my eyes focused upon a scene, a large house with two people in it. I saw a flight of vultures on a blazing flesh sky, I saw yellow lions, and I heard voices.

The first Illustration quivered and came to lift....Copyright ) 1951 by Ray Bradbury The Illustrated Man. Copyright © by Ray Bradbury. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Illustrated Man (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
Penelope_Rabbit More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful collection of short stories that can be read as a single novel. Not only does the collection offer a great read for any science fiction fan, the book has a bit to offer in other areas as well. There are touches of politics and religion in the book as well as a look into the future and past and the what if's that could have been or could be. If you have ever never read a Ray Bradbury book, this is the place to start. Followed by The Martian Chronicles, and Fahrenheit 451.
ayushi30 More than 1 year ago
Well let me start off by saying that scifi is not usually my cup of tea, but when it comes to Bradbury, I simply can't resist. I knew I would probably enjoy this book because I've read The Martian Chronicles (another great scifi read) and absolutely loved it. The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories about the future of mankind. It serves as a sort of premonition of things to come, were humans to continue down the destructive path that we are traveling upon. The premise of the book consists of a man who is tattooed with various illustrations, and the illustrations move and make stories, which are of course the stories told in the book. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that I every single story left me breathless. Bradbury did in eight pages do what some writers take an entire novel to do. This collection is stunning, and a quick read for any one who enjoys psychological dilemmas as well. I would like to leave you with the introductory passage of the book: "There are the vast reaches of outer space - the infinite black nothingness that holds the galaxies, where men in rockets move from the green hills of earth to the rain-glutted forests of Venus to the canals of Mars, and still farther...even farther... And there is inner space - the bottomless well of fears, longing, hope and the complex emotions of the frail human creatures who challenge the universe - those who in turn must face the peril not only of that vastness but also of their own sometimes terrible inventions..." A truly haunting book. Enjoy! To read more of my book reviews, please visit my blog at
Jonathan_Stewart More than 1 year ago
Of course this book is a classic, as is most of what Mr. Bradbury created. I read this first in my younger years and it has stayed with me all my life. Pulled out the same copy I’ve had since I was a teen and reread it again last week. This book is really a collection of stories as relates to the illustrations found on the body of The Illustrated Man. Bradbury’s voice is incredible and his imagination knows no bounds. He gave us views on how things could be in the future, many of which seemed to have come true decades after he wrote this. Someone else wrote: “hypnotic and emotionally potent voice and vision of terrible beauty” which I think sums up this book perfectly. Great reading for all ages above 12.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Bradbury is one of my favorite authors and so this book being good does not surprise me. He links the stories together so well, and the novel is so original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Illustrated Man is a fascinating novel. Novelist Ray Bradbury is outstanding and his different ideas and wild imagination makes you want to read more and more. The Illustrated Man is basically about a man with tattoos on his entire body. He gets these magical tattoos from a mysterious woman. The man wants to find this woman and kill her because the tattoos are frightening and it caused the Illustrated Man to lose his job many times. He meets a young man who invites him for a meal and the Illustrated Man lets him read his stories at night, while he is sleeping. The young man finds out that each tattoo tells a different story , a total of eighteen. Most of the stories are in the science fiction genre and the setting of Mars is used very often. I really enjoyed this book because each story makes you think about what is happening and each story never gets old. Just when you think something is sure to happen, Bradbury throws in a twist. The stories vary from men looking for the sun on Mars where it rains nonstop, to a virtual playroom with lions which turn into the real thing. One thing I didn't like is that some of the stories are confusing and you have to read them a couple of times carefully to get the whole idea. The Illustrated Man is a great book that makes you scratch your head. If you like science fiction with a little mystery, you should definitely check this book out. Some other novels by Ray Bradbury are Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
ElliottBaye 5 months ago
I've never been a science fiction fan, but I was curious as I have heard positive reviews of Ray Bradbury's works. I chose The Illustrated Man as it is a collection of 18 short stories. Wow, I loved this book! The stories have twists and surprise endings and I can hardly wait to read the rest. 4/5 stars as a few of the stories seem to be re-hashed from each other.
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LaureaTari More than 1 year ago
I suppose "good" is the category I would place this book in. The writing certainly wasn't bad or below average. The stories were powerful, but very dark. I was assigned to read this book for a class and could only just bring myself to read one of the stories at a time. Many of the stories embodied a feeling of fear and dread, leaving me anxious and emotionally drained after just a few pages. Definitely not for everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I read the book, I amagain reminded of my youth reading lesson. These short stories excite the imagination, re-kindle the love of reading through a chapter. But, mostly inspires me to realize how important and wonderful keeping the legacey of books we read as children and young adults can be shared with our new generation of family members. One can only hope to share experiences with our grand children, and neices and nephews This book is onwhich can be shared, and used to start many conversations. Thank you for making it avaliable in E-book form.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Savoried rather than gulped the movies were never satisfactory however with the new special effects could be true to the story now that was awkward before in film
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bradbury at its Finest!!!! this book is a work of art! each short story draws you into the next. a book you cannot put down to save your life! if you love SiFi look no further then this Masterpiece of the great Ray Bradbury!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This boois of course another amazing book that Bradbury has written. The detail and imagination used to write this book of sort stories baffles me. Bradbury has amazing talent and his writings live on forever in ones mind for the words and stories are so strong and vivid tha they are simply hard to forget. All in all this book is amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the second book that i fell in love with. Bradbury is not only a genius but a master. When i first sall how much the e-book versions of his works are i was upset, but i think thats the point! E-books are great but one the master of scifi wants you to go and buy a real book! It will cost less! Still gonna give it 5 stars its worth it!
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BrieBB More than 1 year ago
I am a lover of books and reading and my only favorite author over the past few years has been Jodi Picoult. But ever since I picked up this book, I keep going back to the pages I just read becuase it just moves me. I feel as if I am there and watching these stories come alive and reliving them. It's amazing how Bradbury has such detail and fantasy that it almost becomes real. I would definitly reccommend this book!
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