The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man

by Ray Bradbury

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553274493
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1983
Series: Grand Master Editions Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 186
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ray Bradbury (1920–2012) was the author of more than three dozen books, including Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, as well as hundreds of short stories. He wrote for the theater, cinema, and TV, including the screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick and the Emmy Award–winning teleplay The Halloween Tree, and adapted for television sixty-five of his stories for The Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, and numerous other honors.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

August 22, 1920

Place of Birth:

Waukegan, Illinois


Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt


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) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 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
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.
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.
Djupstrom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hands down the most ingenious idea for a collection of short stories. This is Ray Bradbury's opus. Brilliant. The likes of which has not been matched.
LeslitGS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Illustrated Man, is not so much a novel as a gathering place of Bradbury's short stories, but he has tied them together with an over-arching thread that, pardon the pun, seamlessly pulls them together and tucks them away in a little hand-made leather pouch. Basically, there is a man. He's hanging out on a hill when he sees another man come up. After greetings, they get talking and we learn that the newcomer is an illustrated man--you know, the tattooed wonders of carnivals. Unfortunately, he is not tattooed but illustrate, covered with amazing images of people, places, things (an extremely varied collection of nouns!) that, at night, move. His body tells stories. Neat, huh? Anyway, so this is the thread. The stories themselves are the cloth. The medium through which Ray Bradbury expresses not only his brilliance, but his thoughts. His stories could be labeled didactic, but I think I might have to slap the man (or woman) who would do so. Perhaps didactic does not deserve my dark thoughts on it as a pejorative. Whether or not it is a negative note, it is also far too simple. A tale deserving the label 'didactic' will be undeserving of the descriptives 'astounding' or some other such terms that my poor, atrophied brain cannot currently grasp. His, on the other hand, pack the punch of his novels. I only read the first three stories, 'The Veldt'(which, according to Merriam Webster is 'a grassland especially of southern Africa usually with scattered shrubs or trees'), 'Kaliedescope,' and 'The Other Foot.' Now, I don't know quite what it is that I find so absolutely haunting about his writing, as none of these stories was especially scary, but I must inform you that, as I walked through the dark house to my computer, my skin fair tingled from the shadows that rustled about in my own mind. He has that power--to awaken things. For what fell or fair purpose, I do not know. [Please recall that I described this mess as a 'billboard-digest' which basically means that I type what comes to mind about a book because I currently have no one here to use as a soundboard. This will not be my final post on The Illustrated Man, but it will still be.] My thoughts on Bradbury are, for the moment, petering out, but I must say one thing more on him. I love Ray Bradbury's writing. I love his writing because it is filled with all of the rocketry, magic and wonder of youth, the experiential wisdom and common sense of age, and the absolutely basic terror that lurks in the darkness behind your closed eye-lids, no matter how old you are.
kwohlrob on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Outstanding stories. I always loved how Bradbury, like Rod Serling, used speculative fiction as a form of social commentary.
turtlesleap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is quintessential Brabury. His stories have worn well over the years although some are necessarily a little dated. His use of the language as a tool to evoke emotions in the reader, however, is still unparalleled. None of his work has ever translated particularly well to film and his nostalgia, looking back on a simpler sweeter time from the perspective of the 1960's, may not come through at all to today's reader. Still, a writer not to be missed. His short story, "The Pedestrian" is worth looking for.
bookworm87 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
VERY interesting book, really makes you think about what the world could be in a few hundred years if mankind continues to follow on its current path. Happy in some parts, sad in others, "The Illustrated Man" tells the story of a strange man with magnificent tattoos over his entire body. They each tell a story--some of them very disturbing to those who manage a peek. All of the stories are told in true Ray Bradbury form colorful words, sci-fi settings and subjects all the way.
masterdeski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The only sci-fi book I've ever read that I didn't like.
bohemiangirl35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
[The Illustrated Man] by [[Ray Bradbury]] is a collection of short stories written in the 50s which was released as an audio collection last year. Paul Michael Garcia is a superb narrator. Most of the stories are centered around a space/futuristic theme and many involve the planet Mars. The Mars theme gets a little old after the third or fourth tale. However, they are all worth reading.Bradbury explores man's relationship with technology and the way we treat others in unique fashion. Although the endings are predictable, the stories are interesting and well-told.Marionettes, Inc., Zero Hour, The Man and The Fox and The Forest were my favorites.
bderby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Any one of these 18 short stories could be used in the classroom on its own, but they are artfully woven together through the commonality of being depicted on the Illustrated Man. The stories range widely from a room which brings the African savannah to life, to a man who suffers an addiction to space so severe that he cannot stand to remain with his family, and their applications range widely as well. Any one of these stories could easily be paired with another text to hilight similar themes, or used to introduce a larger work by Bradbury such as Fahrenheit 451.
JosephJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Superb stories and most of them are creepy. Bradbury is clearly at home writing science fiction. Some of the stories feel redundant when you get to the third or fourth story about astronauts but the whole collection is worth reading. Each story, individually, sustains itself pretty well. My favorite involves a group of astronauts hurtling trough space hundreds or thousands of miles away from each other after their space shuttle explodes. They can hear each other over their comm devices but they can not help but float until their oxygen (or sanity) runs out.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good introduction to Mr. Bradbury, some light themed stories and some deeper philosophical ones. There is a quaintness about what fifties people thought the future would be like and looking back from a perspective of sixty years it is amazing how much things have change. Although they may have got the technology wrong, the sociological issues surrounding it, they were pretty close.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh Bradbury, how I love your twisted imagination! After reading Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles Bradbury had already won a permanent place in my heart, but this one certainly secured that spot. I¿m so glad I finally read it.The book begins when our narrator meets a man covered in tattoos; each one moves and tells a story of things to come. Each of the tales is a brilliant short stories in its own right and I actually realized I¿d read a couple of them in other collections in the past. Every plot delves into the inner-workings of society; examining everything from religion, sanity, and discrimination to individual motivations and choices. The whole book is so wonderfully put together that each piece adds to the overall themes, exploring a new aspect. A few that particularly stood out to me:The Rocket Man ¿ A young boy¿s father returns from his most recent trip into space and thrills his family with anecdotes from his latest adventure. Yet all the while they know he won¿t stay long and this dread hangs heavy in the air. So many science-fiction stories are about astronauts and the new planets they travel to. This one feels unique because we never hear about the family that¿s left behind. The Veldt ¿ This was one I had read before, but it¿s just as deliciously creepy the second time around. Two spoiled children are acting up and their parents decide to take away their most prized possession, a nursery room that brings your wildest dreams to life. Marionettes, Inc. ¿ A man buys a robot to take his place in his boring home situation. He wants to travel without his wife and decides this is the perfect solution, but nothing is ever that simple. Zero Hour ¿ Kids all over earth are playing a game called Invasion, in which aliens are trying to take over the earth. Their parents think it¿s funny, but as the zero hour approaches they begin to think it might not be a game. "There were differences between memories and dreams. He had only dreams of things he had wanted to do, while Lespere had memories of things done and accomplished. And this knowledge began to pull Hollis apart, with a slow, quivering precision.¿ ¿ - Kaleidoscope
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bradbury is a beast. Good even if you don't like sci/fi.
Excalibur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the greatest short story collection I have ever read. The stories in this book are both profound and compelling. Bradbury manages to write about the future in a way that is nostalgic rather than mind bendingly futuristic. This nostalgic futurism causes us to look inward and backward while still forcing us outward and beyond. Like most great science fiction writers and seers Bradbury shapes our view of the present by giving us glimpses of the future.
tronella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked most of these stories quite a lot, especially the "Priests on Mars!" one (it's actually called "The Fire Balloons"), but I wasn't really a fan of "The Concrete Mixer" (Mars invades Earth... kind of). I don't remember having read any Bradbury before (although Fahrenheit 451 has been on my list forever), but I quite liked this one. :)
pratchettfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very varied science fiction collection from the early years of this master story-teller. The stories are held together by the Illustrated Man, a man whose full-body tattoos move and tell stories. If you like science fiction then you should definitely give this collection a try.
k8_not_kate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful treasury of short stories, The Illustrated Man is some of the best science fiction I've ever picked up. Bradbury offers lovely vignettes exploring futuristic scenarios and basic human nature in each story. Included is the famous "Veldt" story, as well as one that I tend to think inspired Elton John's "Rocketman."
Michelle_Palmer More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Ray Bradbury but had never read this book until now. I am not usually a fan of the short story, so I hadn't picked up this book. My school has recently started to require reading for 15 minutes at the beginning of each class that does not have a state test so for 15 minutes 3 times per day I read in class (and get paid for it :) ) I enjoyed the book. It is framed well. It starts with a man encountering a man with a lot of tattoos in a field and they are both homeless so they both sleep in the field. No spoilers, that is just the framework for the short stories. The stories themselves are uneven. Most of that is probably because of the time since they were written. Some of them just didn't stand up to 65 years of scientific advancement. However, quite a few of the stories are absolutely charming or in some cases eye opening. Some that I particularly enjoyed: The Veldt was a bit horrifying. The Other Foot was fantastic, probably my favorite. The Man was quite eye opening. The Long Rain was a short psychological thriller. The Rocket Man was sweet and heartbreaking. The Exiles was a fabulous story that literature lovers will enjoy. Marionettes, Inc felt familiar. The City was surprising. Zero Hour felt real. The Rocket was wonderful and full of love. Overall, an excellent read and well worth the time it took to read it.
ElliottBaye More than 1 year 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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