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That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in 1951 is fair testimony to the universal appeal
of Ray Bradbury's work. Only his second collection (the first was Dark Carnival, later reworked into The October
Country), it is a marvelous, if mostly dark, quilt of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In an ingenious framework to
open and close the book, Bradbury presents himself as a nameless narrator who meets the Illustrated Man--a wanderer
whose entire body is a living canvas of exotic tattoos. What's even more remarkable, and increasingly disturbing, is
that the illustrations are themselves magically alive, and each proceeds to unfold its own story, such as "The Veldt,"
wherein rowdy children take a game of virtual reality way over the edge. Or "Kaleidoscope," a heartbreaking portrait of
stranded astronauts about to reenter our atmosphere--without the benefit of a spaceship. Or "Zero Hour," in which
invading aliens have discovered a most logical ally--our own children. Even though most were written in the 1940s and
1950s, these 18 classic stories will be just as chillingly effective 50 years from now. --Stanley Wiater