Ravens, More Ravens and Some Other Stuff

It appears to be catch up time on the blog - so what can I tell you? A few days ago there was a fight outside the house... up in the sky between a gang of ravens and a gang of seagulls. I'm not sure who won but I was left with an injured raven hiding behind the paper recycling box. He was very frightened, so I left him for a few hours and when I went out to wrap him in a towel - my preferred method of handling injured birds - he decided he was fine thanks and flew off. Maybe he was just stunned but it looked nasty up there for a time. 

In other news, for those interested, Brian Sibley's adaptation of The Illustrated Man page is up at the BBC site - I promised to link to it when it was up, which it is and that's here. Apparently I did this clip for them, though I'm sure we were going to have another sweep at it before it went out. Never mind. There's nothing better than being caught off guard by people from the BBC with tape recorders and cameras while you're busy looking for coffee...

I also wrote a blog post for them but it appears that the pages for the show are now complete, on which basis, I will post it here and thus wrap up:

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Something Wicked This Way Comes:

The Illustrated Man was part of an elite group of books that we genuinely looked forward to getting involved with at school. Along with The Day of the Triffids and The War of the Worlds, it was off syllabus but our teacher that year was determined to broaden our horizons beyond Shakespeare—and she did it with such a passion that I hope she will be mightily pleased that I, if not others, have continued to keep this flame alive.

In 1981, I was 14 and it was not a period in time when tattoos were even remotely pop-culture orientated, but the backstory to Bradbury’s tale is absolutely captivating. What 14-year-old boy would not have his eyes swept wide open by the tale of a vagrant who had been tattooed with magical images by a time-travelling witch?

That the book had been out in the populace for thirty years already makes it all the more special. 

Some years later, I found a VHS copy of Jack Smight's 1969 movie adaptation on a market stall. Held up at the front-end by Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom, it's a strange film and up until that day, I had never seen it. It was captivating for all the wrong reasons—it certainly wasn't how I remembered the book that was for sure, so I back-tracked to the novel again and found that a subsequent reading was actually far superior to the first. 

Since then, I've read The Illustrated Man many times, and not only as I've had cause to work with the book due to my job. You can never be sure with Ray Bradbury as to what his intentions were with his stories. As something of a ‘fussy’ fan of Bradbury, I get the impression that he was simply writing stories he liked, and if you liked them too, that was great. If not, that was also fine because there would be something different along shortly. 

I believe 2014 makes it 63 years on the shelf but still, The Illustrated Man never gets old. If you were to press me as to why, I would say it was because it consists of contrastingly different short stories held together with a premise thinner than a spider’s silk that just so happens to be stronger than steel. The book is not really even about a tattooed man—that's nothing but a mask to see it safely into the carnival to make its speech. 

What the book is really about is human behaviour. And for that reason alone, The Illustrated Man becomes truly timeless in a way many books wish they could also be and yet, fail miserably.

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In other spill-over from the day job, there was also this from the North Wales Chronicle - which is lovely thank you very much. 

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There's not been much action on the blog front at the moment as it's spectacularly dull proofing and correcting your own work to get it ready for the outside world. Having said that, after a good brainstorm with Wayne over how a writer can increase his stock in a world were everything is louder than everything else, we came up with some good ideas, the results of which should turn up soon. 

Meanwhile, my dog continues to get bigger and bigger...


Sion Smith2 Comments