Monday, March 29, 2021

Bradbury 101 - episode 4: The Illustrated Man

 I somehow found time to make another Bradbury 101 Youtube video. This time, it's about The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury's 1951 short story collection.

I've gone with another shock-tactic headline for the video: Ray Bradbury, Stuck in Science Fiction. This is because The Illustrated Man is the book which really landed Bradbury with the label "science fiction writer". Although he'd been writing SF from early in his career, he was pretty much done with the genre by 1951; much of his new fiction from this point was anything but science fiction. Think Dandelion Wine, the Moby Dick screenplay, Something Wicked This Way Comes, etc.

And yet, with two books of (arguably) SF in a row - The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man - he gained both a reputation and a label that he found hard to shake off.

Read more about the book here.

I hope you enjoy this quick run through of the Illustrated Man stories. Let me know if you'd like more of this type of thing!


Jack Seabrook said...

A fascinating and enjoyable video! That magazine illo for "The Illustrated Man" is a stunner. I love the way the covers and interior pages are presented and the pulp covers, especially, look gorgeous against the red background. Was there a rhyme or reason for the different contents of the UK editions? Did it have to do with securing rights?

David Chadwick said...

Excellent video Phil thank you. Fascinating to see the stories as published in the magazines and to note once again the discrepancies between the American and British versions. It's clear that I have some gaps to fill as I only have the Flamingo version! A very clear presentation of why Bradbury is still regarded as an SF writer. It's because those stories are just so good!

Phil said...

Thanks, David, I'm pleased you enjoyed it!

Over the years, I've realised that just opening a single copy of any Bradbury work only gives you a partial view of the author. There are so many variants. The casual reader won't know, notice, or worry about it. But once you realise it...

Phil said...

Jack, I don't know the exact reason for the different contents of the UK edition, but among the factors likely involved are:

1. The UK editions always lagged behind the US in those days, which sometimes allowed Bradbury time to re-think the contents. (He frequently changed his mind!)

2. Differing tastes from the UK editor/publisher.

3. The length of the book: war-time rationing continued in the UK well into the 1950s, and there was a post-war paper shortage. This led to some books being shortened. This definitely happened to the UK DARK CARNIVAL.

4. Rights issues.

For the specifics on The Illustrated Man, the best place to look would be in Eller & Touponce's RAY BRADBURY: THE LIFE OF FICTION.