This review is from: Now and Forever (Paperback)
Containing two previously unpublished novellas by the preeminent author of the seminal dystopian work "Farenheit 451", this collection is a little bit of a "rough-notes" edition showcasing Bradbury's genius. They have a certain unpolished or unadorned feel, and that is not unexpected. In the introduction to each novella, Bradbury lets on that these works were envisaged for different media. "Somewhere a Band is Playing" was originally born out of an intention to script a film for Katharine Hepburn circa 1956, and this printed version is probably one of many works-in-progress pieces he was working with.
James Cardiff, a young reporter leaps out of a train he catches under the influence of a dream, lines "he had felt... writing on the insides of his eyelids". He ends up on a strangely perfectly-shaped little town in the middle of the Arizonan desert. No one grows old here and there is literally one man who wears different hats, Elias Culpepper. He is station master, ticket-seller, baggage master, night watchman, taxi service (actually a horse-drawn carriage that doubles up as a bread/newspaper delivery), and eventually a kind of a spiritual guide for our hapless hero. Cardiff meets the woman of his dreams, and falls in love with her, and discovers stranger and stranger things about the town and its inhabitants. As he uncovers more of the town's mysteries, he also finds himself confronting a personal dilemma of where he really belongs.
In "Leviathan '99", originally borne out of a radio drama that Bradbury expanded into a stage play, that he admits, was rather lackluster, he trimmed it down to this novella version. An ambitious reimagining of Moby-Dick, space-opera version, the white whale is now a destructive comet chased by the crazed and blinded captain of spacecraft Cetus 7. Ishmael Cunnicut Jones is the astronaut who joins the crew of this exploration voyage, only to have the captain override the mission with his personal quest, that threatens the fates of all onboard. The added dimension to the text is the way Time adds to the existential crisis of the quest.
Not necessarily Bradbury's best, but an interesting insight to a side project of an inventive author.