Now and Forever
Ray Bradbury doesn't let go of good ideas. The two novellas included in Now and Forever are both stories that have been in the works for a few decades - mostly in his head and in notes.
"Leviathan '99" (the second story in the book) was first written as a radio program or early television show. The mad (as in crazy) captain of a star ship drags his crew on a mission to catch the largest comet in the galaxy. In other words, Moby Dick is now in space. The story is definitely an homage to the classic novel, even starting with "Call me Ishmael." It's also a lot of fun and is good space opera. Whether on the ocean or in space, people with obsessions cannot always be swayed.
"Somewhere a Band is Playing" is a wonderful, introspective tale of "what if?". A journalist gets off a moving train to visit Summerton, a small town in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. He has terrible news to give to the people there. Instead he gets caught up in a life that is slow and easy going and pleasant. It's as if the town is in a time warp of an earlier era. He gets pulled in the people's lives even as he is learning their unbelievable secret. Is there someway he can save this town from its inevitable doom? Does he want to stay with these people or return to the life he had before he got off the train?
I found "Somewhere a Band is Playing" uneven yet was charmed by the story. Another reporter shows up to give the jarring note the story needs to move forward. That section doesn't work well, in my mind. I enjoyed the story and the setting otherwise. It's the type of story that would have fit well in the 1960's version of the Twilight Zone. It has that twist in the end that makes it a haunting story.
Now and Forever is an enjoyable book by a master author. Both the stories in it will please.
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