Tales From The Library - The Man
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Join us for Tales From The Library: A new connect book review club in the Virtual Coffee Shop. Every Thursday at 3pm we will explore a new book and tale from various different writers. Read the book in advance or listen to our available audio recordings of the stories and then join us for a chat about the story and its deeper themes and meanings. Book recordings will be made available on the Wednesday before the Connect Group chat. Sign up below in order to take part and access the books.
'The Man' by Ray Badbury
This week we will dip once more into Ray Bradbury’s short stories, focusing this time on the short story 'The Man'. The tale tells of two men who land with a rocket on a distant planet expecting a rapturous welcome for the planet’s inhabitants, only to find that their arrival goes unnoticed. They discover that the day before a mysterious man has entered the city performing miracles and healing. The two men venture into the city to investigate, trying to find out who this man was and what he had done while here to upstage the arrival of the rocket.
This tale is part of the book of related short stories ‘The Illustrated Man’.
The Illustrated Man is a 1951 collection of eighteen science fiction short stories by American writer Ray Bradbury. A recurring theme throughout the eighteen stories is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the psychology of people. It was nominated for the International Fantasy Award in 1952.
The unrelated stories are tied together by the frame device of "The Illustrated Man", a vagrant former member of a carnival freak show with an extensively tattooed body whom the unnamed narrator meets. The man's tattoos, allegedly created by a time-traveling woman, are individually animated, and each tells a different tale. All but one of the stories had been published previously elsewhere, although Bradbury revised some of the texts for the book's publication.
1. Think of captain Hart as a character, what do we find out about him at the start of the story that sets up for his actions later on?
2. What are your fist impressions of the mysterious man, how does Bradbury lead us to feel about Hart at this point?
3. How much do we find out about the nature of the world the men have left behind, think about what the earth might be like in this time, how is their civilisation described to us?
4. How do you see the other planets civilisations people? Are they like us? Different?
5. Think about Bradbury’s use of ‘the man’ as the central plot device of the story, how clear is it who the man is? Is there room for interpretation on this?
6. What do you think Bradbury is trying to say on the nature of belief and faith itself? How is faith a key part of both of our characters story arcs?
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