SHADOW SHOW – All-new stories in celebration of RAY BRADBURY (Edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle)

The book contains 27 new stories by authors like Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Margaret Atwood, Jacquelin Mitchard and many others. After each story there’s a short explanation of how the writers came up with the ideas. Some have met Bradbury, even got writing advice from him, or grew up reading his stories, and those stories had shaped their lives as authors. All the stories in the book are connected in some way to Bradbury’s work – be it characters or themes or just concepts that were inspired from his stories; dystopian worlds, monsters, mysterious strangers, these are just some of the ideas the stories are based on. I did not read anything Bradbury until last year, when Fahrenheit 451 had such an impact on me I don’t think I’ll ever forget that first sentence, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Like with any short story collection, some of the stories were quite enjoyable, others less so. A few words on my favorites:

The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, by Neil Gaiman.
This story has the feeling of a soliloquy on the subject of Ray Bradbury’s work as a writer. It’s also about forgetting things, particularly names and about the stories that stay with you even though you forgot who wrote them or their complete name. From all the stories in the book, this is the one that feels more like a farewell tribute than a story in itself.

Headlife, by Margaret Atwood
A very apt title, meant to be taken ad literam. Everything happens in the future, where technology is so advanced that heads can be severed from the body and still live to talk. Memories and fantasies can be projected on screens for others to watch and buy. A scary look into what happens when you lose the right to your own privacy.

The Girl in the Funeral Parlor, by Sam Weller.
What happens when you meet your soul mate but she’s already dead? This is a twisted tale of a young man who falls in love with a dead girl and tries to find out more about her and how she died. What he finds out only strengthens his conviction that they would have been perfect for each other but the timing was wrong. A beautiful story.

The Companions, by David Morrell
Death comes at the right time. A couple go out to for a night at the opera where they meet two men who later they find out were dead. The mystery gets deeper as they meet them again a year later and then again, a few years after that. The sightings are not random and the last time the couple sees them, the mystery is revealed and everything comes together. Sad and moving.

Children of the Bedtime Machine, by Robert McCammon
This was a story I particularly liked; maybe it was the loneliness of the old woman living in a world on the brink of extinction, or perhaps the sense of joy and fulfillment she found in reading stories to children. It just goes to show that no matter where you live of how your life turns out, there’s always new territory to discover between the pages of a book.

Who Knocks, by Dave Eggers
A girl takes a boat out on a lake in the middle of the night and is never seen again. All that remains is her journal which is found in the boat – and a few lines that provide a glimpse into the mystery of the disappearance. Scary and entertaining.

Because I’ve only read one book by Bradbury, in a way I feel like I missed out on some of the stories in this collection. Some of them were great as standalone stories but with others I felt like maybe I would have liked them better had I read the original first. Most of the stories were good, some were great (like the ones I mentioned above) and some just didn’t do much for me, but in the end it was worth the read.

*Read in August, 2012

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12 Responses to SHADOW SHOW – All-new stories in celebration of RAY BRADBURY (Edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle)

  1. Jenners says:

    This sounds like a really loving and dedicated tribute to a great writer. I’m going to have to look for it.

  2. Vishy says:

    This looks like a beautiful book, Delia! I loved your descriptions of Gaiman’s story and Robert McCammon’s story. And the authors included in the book are all so wonderful. It must be a beautiful tribute book, I am sure.

    • Delia says:

      Hi Vishy,
      It is a good book and the stories are very different. Robert McCammon’s story reminded me of “Fahrenheit 451” and I loved that book. After reading about these authors and how Bradbury influenced them as writers, I feel like I should read more of his work. I haven’t forgotten Dandelion Wine, the one you recommended, it’s high on my list.

  3. Caroline says:

    I went through a major Ray Bradbury phase at 16 and read at least 10 books. Some are still very vivid in my mind. I’m planning on reading his Halloween story this year. Funny enough I haven’t read fahrenheit 451. No idea why.
    I like the idea of this collection and also that there are contributors (Jaquelin Mitchard) one wouldn’t expect in a collection like this.

    • Delia says:

      10 books, wow! If it helps, “Fahrenheit 451” is a very short book, it can be read in a day and well worth the time. I’m not familiar with Jaquelin Mitchard, I’ll have to find more info about her.

  4. Carl V. says:

    After seeing a couple of reviews yesterday that reminded me of the book, I ordered a copy from my library. There are just too many authors here that I like to not give it a read. I’m sure my experience will be like yours as I’ve only read a few things by Bradbury, but I look forward to the collection nonetheless.

  5. Interesting – he only died in June this year, so unless this was a REALLY quick production I guess it was written as a living tribute and became a posthumous one by the time it came out.

    I’ve never read anything by him – to be honest I got him confused for a long time with the British writer Malcolm Bradbury! I’ll have to try Fahrenheit 451 based on your recommendation.

    • Delia says:

      That surprised me too! It seems to have been published really fast so you’re probably right that it was in the works at the time of his death.

      Oh, you should! I keep recommending “Fahrenheit 451” which is a truly amazing book that I think everyone should read. And have I said it’s short? 🙂
      I’ve tried reading another one of his novels, “Let’s All Kill Constance”, but only made it halfway through and put it on hold. A lot of dialogue in that book, I had trouble keeping up with the story.

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