The Illustrated Man
The Veldt-Marionettes Inc.
The Illustrated Man
The world of Ray Bradbury is that of healthy, small-town America. But this world has a darker side where the nostalgic delights of a simpler, easier life can (and do) turn into something very frightening. Whether we like it or not, automation seems to be with us to stay. The trouble with automation is that the results of it are to replace people in one way or another. Both of these stories are about forms of aatomation; one which replaces humanity, the other which replaces humans.
For anyone who has ever tried to maintain a house, Mr. Bradbury has invented the ideal house - one which maintains itself. This is the same house which appears in Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains which has also been recorded by Leonard Nimoy on Caedmon Records.
It is completely equipped with mechanisms which provide every service for its occupants, from making breakfast to tying shoelaces. Not only are all physical needs seen to, but for the children, the nursery has walls which reflect all the dreams and fantasies of their active minds life-size and in natural color.
Therein lies the problem. The walls reflect all the dreams of two children who should be the happiest people in the world as everything they could need or want is provided for. When their father decides that the house is taking over functions which the family members should perform for themselves, and suggests that they shut down some of the mechanisms of the house, the children and the nursery take their revenge in a horrible way.
The house in this story, which was first published in 1950, is one of the dream houses which were being proposed and speculated about in the years immediately following World War II. At the time the media was telling Americans that the advances of technology made during the War were going to be used for peace time to further the American consumer's dream. Even then Bradbury could see how quickly a dream could turn into a nightmare.
This story deals with a form of automation which makes the de-humanizing effects of the house in The Veldt look desirable.
How many of us would give anything to be in two places at once? Personal demands on our presence are made by people to whom we have a commitment, usually marriage. It would not be necessary for us to he there if we could find a replacement, or rather, a replica which would not only look and sound (and smell) like us, but which would be completely under our control. Marionettes, Inc. provides just such replicas in the form of robots in human form (usually called androids in science fiction terms) which can take the place of their owners in dull or unpleasant situations.
Of course, Marionettes, Inc. operates in secret as such androids are illegal. The ramifications of having duplicate people running around can be too great for society to tolerate. Despite its illegality, the people in this story find the temptation to let their duplicates take over for them is too great.
None of these people has thought about the ramifications of what they are doing. In different ways they soon find out the terror created by duplicates which don't behave the way they have been programmed.
Sandra Ley is the daughter of two remarkable people, Dr. Willy Ley, one of the pioneers of rocketry, and Olga Ley who has been active in many forms of art. Miss Ley is the author of Fashion for Everyone and Sewing (Scribner's) and has just completed an original anthology of science fiction stories for Simon and Schuster entitled Beyond Time.
Before Leonard Nimoy catapulted to fame in the role of Mr. Spock on NBC's "Star Trek" series, he had appeared in over 100 guest roles on various television series. He had also worked in several films including Jean Genet's "The Balcony" with Shelley Winters and Peter Falk, and "Deathwatch." Following the success of "Star Trek," Nimoy went on to star as the versatile Paris in CBS's "Mission: Impossible." As multi-talented as Paris, Nimoy's favorite creative outlets aside from acting and directing are writing and photography. His black and white studies have been shown in various displays and his books You and I and WiIl I Think of You have been published by Celestial Arts. Another Caedmon title by Leonard Nimoy is THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES (TC 1466). William Shatner reads Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION for Caedmon on TC 1508.
The Audiobook version on tape