“Maybe I don’t have enough to do. Maybe I have time to think too much. Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?”
We read The Illustrated Man in my seventh grade PACE class, which was like an honor English/Humanities (that I loved — we had the world’s greatest teacher, Mrs. Wood). That was the last time I read it — must have been around 1998 — but I remember the book and the class vividly. The first short story, “The Veldt”, hung with me particularly strongly — probably because Disney’s Smart House came out around the same time. And “Zero Hour”, where the kids are prepping for an invasion, gave me nightmares.
Almost 20 years later, I reread The Illustrated Man and all of my memories of discussing these stories in class flooded back. They hold up remarkably well against my memory of them — the language still fascinates and inspires imagination, while the lessons behind the stories still apply. Bradbury’s short stories, all linked together by the “Illustrated Man”, a carnival sideshow attraction who awoke one day covered in many moving tattoos, seem able to connect to any generation. I find this particularly impressive when I consider that the technology Bradbury dreamed up in the 1950s seems to hold up pretty well in 2016 — the smart house, the virtual reality, etc. Maybe the other things he writes about — time travel, life on Mars — will come true in another 60 years or so.