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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

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I love Ray Bradbury's descriptive writing! These are two very different stories in one volume. SOMEWHERE A BAND IS PLAYING is a more ethereal story, set on Earth, while LEVIATHAN '99 is an updated version of a space story he wrote long ago.
~Stephanie ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
This is the final book published by Ray Bradbury before his death. It contains two novellas, each based on well-known stories. The first, Somewhere a Band Is Playing, echoes Brigadoon’s love story. The second, Leviathan '99 is a direct retelling of Moby Dick.

Somewhere a Band Is Playing explores a city of eternal youth. James Cardiff stops in a small town in Arizona where everything seems a bit too perfect. He discovers that every single person in the town is a writer. The story is sweet and it actually reminded me a bit of certain scenes from 11/22/63.

Leviathan ‘99 is a much darker tale. It’s a futuristic retelling of Moby Dick. It’s told by the only survivor of a spaceship that was captained by a man obsessed with finding the Great White Comet, which blinded him years earlier. It’s important to note that Bradbury had a particular connection to the story of Moby Dick. He spent a year in Ireland writing the screenplay for Moby Dick. That passion and fanatical focus on the one thing that will probably destroy them all is translated beautifully to the future.

BOTTOM LINE: Neither story is a new favorite, but both have Bradbury’s wonderful tone and writing. You can’t go wrong with any of his short stories. If you’re new to his work I’d recommend starting with one of his famous collections like The Martian Chronicles or The Illustrated Man. October Country is one of my personal favorites as well. ( )
  bookworm12 | Feb 12, 2015 |
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 |
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!!!!! ( )
1 vote 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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:14 -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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