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Now and Forever: Somewhere a Band Is Playing…

Now and Forever: Somewhere a Band Is Playing & Leviathan '99

by Ray Bradbury (Author)

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Somewhere a Band Is Playing was actually okay.

Leviathan '99 was Bradbury's admitted attempt at setting Moby Dick in space. It didn't work. At all. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
Both novellas were brilliant.

In 'Somewhere a Band Is Playing', James Cardiff gets off a train (that barely stops) in Summerton, Arizona, just one of hundreds of places in the middle of nowhere where nothing much seems to happen. But there's something a little bit special about this small town, and despite me getting a slight Stepford feel at first, that makes it a place of peace. Of course, Mr Cardiff gets the story of the place, a story that should be completely soppy and ridiculous, but in Mr Bradbury's skilled hands becomes something that makes absolute sense.

'Leviathan 99' is a futuristic Moby Dick, with a Great White Comet taking the place of The Great White Whale. Brilliantly written, especially the Captain's madness, it is a perfect homage to the original. ( )
  DarkDagon | Oct 21, 2014 |
Writers are often at their best when they begin facing their own mortality. Drawing closer to the end of things than they are to the beginning helps tap into a new level of depth and focus. The characters and stories have an urgency that cannot be ignored. “Listen to me, please. I can help unlock the mystery,” they seem to say.

[Now and Forever] was published in 2007 – Ray Bradbury died just five years later. Both of the novellas that make up the book are ones that Bradbury confesses he had been picking at for decades. But he could never quite unlock these stories, not until twilight was setting for him.

“Somewhere a Band Is Playing” is the first story. Bradbury’s introduction provides some insight into the long process that gave birth to this particular story. Years visiting a desert town, encounters with a movie star, and an orphan poem were all kicking around in his head for years before he completed the story about a magical town where no one ages. It’s not just any old magical town, though. This town is populated exclusively with writers. And the town is in danger of being discovered and razed to make room for a new interstate highway. The town is saved by a writer, of course, who warns the inhabitants rather than writing the newspaper story that he meant to write. He finds love in the town, and he is allowed to join the community. Interesting, don’t you think, that a writer saves an ageless town of writers by choosing life over a story. What must Bradbury have been thinking about?

“Leviathan 99” is the second story. It is an homage to Melville’s [Moby Dick]. But Bradbury transitions the story to deep space, with the mad captain of a spaceship hunting a destructive comet. Bradbury wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s film adaptation of [Moby Dick] in 1959. After that, he tried several times to move the story into space for the radio or television, settling for stage play that was never well received. Bradbury spent decades working on this story of a lone-survivor who tells a story. And it is one of the last stories he published.

Bottom Line: An author in his twilight years focused on his own mortality.

4 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Dec 29, 2013 |
Somewhere a Band is Playing wasn't really my thing. Bradbury's prose is too saccharine and the ending is a muddle, a poor attempt at some sort of dramatic tension.

Surprisingly I preferred Leviathan 99. The prose is a little less sweet this time around, there's more of an edge and Bradbury does a good job of transposing Moby Dick to space. It still has its weak moments but overall it was a fun yarn.

If the first tale was two stars, I think the second is probably worth three; so 2.5 overall. ( )
  DRFP | Nov 21, 2011 |
In 2007, his novella collection "Now and Forever" was released, offering two new tales from the master writer. The first story -- "Somewhere a Band Is Playing" -- revolves around James Cardiff, an adventurer, if you will, who while sleeping one night hears a strange music when his eyes close. The words of a poem fitting the music etch themselves in his inner vision, and he's drawn to the middle of nowhere in Arizona. There he discovers the town of Summerton, population uncertain, but the residents harbor a great secret, one to which forces James to make a life-changing decision.

The story is an effective fantasy spin on what it means to be a writer. Not simply the process of writing, but how it affects the writer and what writing means to the writer.

The second novella -- "Leviathan '99" -- is Bradbury's re-telling of the classic Melville novel Moby Dick. He moves the action from the seas of Earth to the more vast sea of stars and space. Ishmael spins his tale of a ship's captain, determined to find the bright white comet that blinded him, no matter the cost to himself or to his crew.

I can't think of a better writer to transpose the tale into the expanse of outer space. That sense of wonder and adventure remains intact while still managing to have the spirit of Melville attached to it with how the characters speak and act. (It doesn't hurt that he co-wrote the script for the 1958 film version or re-counted his time spent with the writing in his novel "Green Shadows, White Whale".)

"Now and Forever" offers two prime examples of why Bradbury is considered one of the foremost writers. If you've yet to read anything from him, I suggest checking out this one. ( )
  ocgreg34 | Sep 26, 2011 |
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Two novellas.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061131563, Hardcover)

Two dazzling new novellas from the celebrated author of Fahrenheit 451. Two previously unpublished novellas comprise this astonishing new volume from one of science fiction's greatest living writers. In the first, 'Somewhere a Band is Playing', newsman James Cardiff is lured through poetry and his fascination with a beautiful and enigmatic young woman to Summerton, Arizona. The small town's childless population hold an extraordinary secret which has been passed on for thousands of years unbeknownst to the rest of human civilization. In the second novella, 'Leviathan '99', the classic tale of Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick' is reborn as an interstellar adventure. It recounts the exploits of the mad Captain Ahab, who, blinded by his first encounter with a gigantic comet called 'Leviathan', pursues his lunatic vendetta across the universe. Born in space and seeking adventure in the skies, astronaut Ishmael Jones joins the crew aboard the Cetus 7 and quickly finds his fate in the hands of an indefatigable captain. Published together for the first time in one volume, these two stories twinkle with Bradbury's characteristically intricate metaphors and lyrical phrases. Both are a lasting testament to an older generation of writers that, much like the Leviathan itself, are on the threshold of passing on into the realm of legend.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:36 -0400)

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Presents two novellas, including "Somewhere a Band Is Playing," in which a young writer discovers that all is not as it seems in a nostalgic community, and "Leviathan '99," in which Ishmael Hunnicut Jones prepares for a first interstellar hunt.

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