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I like big books.

Illustrated Man (Voyager Classics)

The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury One word pretty much sums up the stories in this collection: fun! Classic sci-fi seems to be the only kind really palatable to me anymore. To think that most of these stories were written and copyrighted in the 1950s only shows that Bradbury was way ahead of his time. Stories that especially stick out to me in the end: Veldt, the first story about the animosity children have towards their parents, especially when they're spoiled, The Exiles, about writers and characters abandoned and forgotten on Earth, No Particular Night or Morning, about a man who can't quite convince himself of reality, and The Concrete Mixer, about the failure of a Martian invasion of Earth for reasons wholly unexpected and unforeseen. This is not to invalidate any of the other stories in this collection.

All show a way of thinking outside the box, the universality of religion is a theme that appears consistently in some of these stories, posing interesting theological questions that, for the 1950s at least, might have seemed revolutionary. If God created the entire universe, wouldn't he be known in some form everywhere? Are alien conceptions of God similar to our own, or radically different? The antagonism between different age groups is another common theme, picked up in a couple of different stories examining the relationships between children and their parents, and carried over anger and resentment. Bradbury also shows himself to be quite forward on racial issues, especially for the 1950s, examining and deconstructing racism in a couple of his stories, in some cases turning it back on contemporary perpetrators to give a measure of justice to it's victims.

Bradbury is also a master of situations and I thought to myself several times upon reading the stories, man it must suck to be his characters. I'm thinking particularly of The Long Rain, and Kaleidoscope. How horrifying it would be to be stuck adrift in space until you just died, or burnt up in the atmosphere of whatever planet caught you, with all the time in the world to think about your life and your situation. Or how miserable you would be sitting in an unending rain with no shelter, watching your body shrivel and prune without being able to sleep. Torture!

Well written, fun to read and deeply thought provoking!