Introduced by Margaret Atwood
Illustrated by Marc Burckhardt
A dazzling new edition of Ray Bradbury’s timeless classic The Illustrated Man, brought vividly to life by Marc Burckhardt’s metallic binding and stark illustrations; with an insightful introduction by Margaret Atwood.
‘It keeps on going,’ he said, guessing my thought. ‘All of me is Illustrated.’
The Illustrated Man is Ray Bradbury at his very best - sixteen startling tales that built on his breakout collection The Martian Chronicles and paved the way for his dystopian masterpiece Fahrenheit 451.
Its breathtaking unifying conceit is classic Bradbury: the narrator watches each story swirl magically to life on the tattooed body of a sinister carnival freak. Dancing across his skin are unsettling vignettes of life on Earth and in the depths of outer-space, from the present day through to distant futures. Soldiers on Venus struggle desperately to escape the maddening incessant rain; a family calmly prepares for the end of the world; children turn their virtual-reality nursery against their ineffectual parents...
At first glance, this is science fiction rooted firmly in 1950s America – the paranoia of McCarthyism, apocalyptic fears of the Cold War, concern about colonial ambitions, racial segregation and the dangers of television. But as Bradbury’s stories rise before us, we find that the questions he asks, and the anxieties he explores, are universal.
Like the free-falling astronauts in ‘Kaleidoscope’, how might we assess our lives in the face of certain death? How would the brutally oppressed act if the boot was finally on ‘The Other Foot’? How can parents manage their children’s addiction to technology, protect them from the inevitable pains of growing up, or shelter them from the inequalities of life? What separates us from the existential crisis experienced in the farthest reaches of space in ‘No Particular Night or Morning’?
Bradbury battled to avoid being pigeon-holed as a sci-fi writer, demanding that the words ‘Science Fiction’ were removed from the first edition of The Illustrated Man. ‘Science’ and intergalactic settings provide only a backdrop for the true focus of these extraordinary stories – what Bradbury called the ‘odd corners’ of the human psyche. In probing these corners, Bradbury takes us far beyond the realms of traditional science fiction, warning us of the dangers of forgetting our fundamental humanity.
In her insightful introduction, Margaret Atwood explores Bradbury’s unique talent and how encountering his work in her formative years shaped her own writing. This dazzling edition also boasts a stunning metallic-cloth binding and stark illustrations by Marc Burckhardt, which float above the page as if emerging from the surface of a freckled skin.
Ray Bradbury was born in Illinois in 1920, and spent most of his life in Los Angeles. He did not go to university and was a full-time writer from the age of twenty-three; his short story ‘Homecoming’ was picked from the slush pile at Mademoiselle magazine by Truman Capote. Bradbury’s first book, a collection of short stories entitled Dark Carnival, was published in 1947. The Martian Chronicles (1950) was followed by The Illustrated Man (1951) and his seminal work of dystopian science fiction, Fahrenheit 451, in 1953. He died in 2012.
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. Throughout her writing career she has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Handmaid’s Tale (1983; The Folio Society, 2012), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker Prize in 2000. Her most recent novel is Hag-Seed (2016).
Marc Burckhardt’s work has won numerous awards, including Gold & Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators and Cannes Lion. He has exhibited in galleries worldwide, and has been commissioned by TIME, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, Major League Baseball and Porsche. A former instructor at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and Texas State University, he was named Texas State Artist in 2010 by the Texas Legislature and the Texas Commission on the Arts. He is a recipient of the prestigious Hamilton King Award.
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