Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Back in the late 1970s, Ray Bradbury performed several short stories on record. This collection is comprised of four tapes, two of which feature stories from The Martian Chronicles and two feature short stories which were released in the 70s under the title The Illustrated Man, although the stories came from a variety of sources.
Of course, all the stories have been published before, so if you are familiar with Bradbury's work, there is a good chance you have already read most of the stories contained on these tapes. In fact, reading The Martian Chronicles will give you eleven of the stories. "There Will Come Soft Rains," included on The Illustrated Man tapes, is actually a late chapter of The Martian Chronicles.
However, listening to a story on tape is different than reading a story, and many of these stories are short enough that you can practically listen to an entire story while driving to the corner story. What you gain from hearing these stories on tape is the sound of Bradbury's voice reciting his own stories and giving them the inflections and patterns in which he conceived the stories. Bradbury's voice is good for reading, without an annoying accent. Furthermore, the technicians set the sound levels properly.
The stories, of course, are pure Bradbury. Although usually labelled a science fiction author, Bradbury's writings tend more towards the horrific. The terror inherent in "The Illustrated Man," "The Crowd" or "The Third Expedition" ranks with anything traditionally labelled "horror." The unthinking cruelty shown in "The Dwarf" is as applicable in the 1990s as it was when Bradbury published the story in 1953.
In fact, many of these stories by Bradbury have aged quite well and read better in the 1990s than many of the stories published in his most recent collection, Driving Blind.
Although a minority of The Martian Chronicles stories are represented on these tapes, they were chosen well enough that there is still a narrative quality running through those tapes. While The Illustrated Man tapes don't have the same narrative coherence, the stories form a sort of "Best of Ray Bradbury" collection.
The Martian Chronicles
The Illustrated Man
|Rocket Summer||The Illustrated Man|
|The Summer Night||There Will Come Soft Rains|
|The Earth Man||The Dwarf|
|The Third Expedition||The Veldt|
|The Settlers||A Sound of Thunder|
|The Locusts||Marionettes, Inc.|
|Night Meeting||The Pedestrian|
|The Silent Towns||The Smile|
|The Million Year Picnic|
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