(hb; 2007: novella anthology)
From the back cover:
"In Somewhere a Band is Playing, a writer is drawn by poetry and dreams to tiny Summerton, Arizona, a community hidden in plain view, where no small children play, and where the residents never seem to age. Enchanted by its powerful rural magic -- and by a beautiful, enigmatic lady who bears the name of an Egyptian queen -- the writer sets out to uncover Summerton's mysteries before the inevitable arrival of a ruthless destruction.
"With Leviathan '99, the author who once colonized Mars returns to the cosmos to brilliantly reimagine Herman Melville's classic masterwork obsession and the sea, transforming a great whale into a worlds-devouring comet. In the year 2099, fledgling astronaut Ishmael Hunnicut Jones boards the Cetus 7, placing his fate in the hands of a relentless madman who is blindly chasing the celestial monster's tail. And in the merciless void, a crew of earthborn and alien star-travelers will face a divine judgment, and an 'enemy' wielding the most fearsome weapon of all... Time."
Somewhere a Band is Playing is a familiar but still-entrancing riff for Bradbury: magic in a small town --this time a town that is magic itself -- replete with quotable poetic passages about youth, the seasons and the inevitability of death. Worthwhile stuff, this.
Leviathan '99, with its Ahab-in-space storyline, is heavier, with a theocratic space program theme running thickly through it. It's good -- of course, it's Bradbury -- but I'm guessing the old radio program which had Christopher Lee providing the voice of the mad captain was more exhilarating. Not one of Bradbury's better works, though some last-minute twists made it memorable.
Overall, this two-novella collection is a good read for Bradbury fans. First-time Bradbury readers should probably avoid this until they've read other books by him.
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