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Shadow Show by Sam Weller
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Shadow Show (2012)

by Sam Weller (Editor), Mort Castle (Editor)

Other authors: Margaret Atwood (Contributor), Jay Bonansinga (Contributor), Gary A. Braunbeck (Contributor), Bonnie Jo Campbell (Contributor), Ramsey Campbell (Contributor)20 more, Mort Castle (Contributor), Dan Chaon (Contributor), Dave Eggers (Contributor), Harlan Ellison (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Joe Hill (Contributor), Alice Hoffman (Contributor), Julia Keller (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), John Maclay (Contributor), Lee Martin (Contributor), Robert Mccammon (Contributor), John McNally (Contributor), Joe Meno (Contributor), Jacquelyn Mitchard (Contributor), Thomas F. Monteleone (Contributor), Audrey Niffenegger (Contributor), Bayo Ojikutu (Contributor), Sam Weller (Contributor), Charles Yu (Contributor)

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In most of the anthologies that I've read there are often some good stories, some bad stories, and some in between. The end result is that I usually feel ambivalent. When I first started reading Shadow Show, I thought this anthology would be more of the same after reading the first story, which was written by Neil Gaiman As it turns out, Gaiman's story was the weakest in the anthology, which is chocked full of quality writing and quality stories. Shadow Show is a tribute to Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest science fiction writers to ever live. Some of the stories clearly struck a chord in giving a definite Bradbury feel. Even the ones that didn't still were generally high quality and entertaining.

There were so many good and interesting stories that it's hard to say which ones were the best. If I had to single out two stories that really stood out were "The Girl in the Funeral Parlor" by Sam Weller, which had a great haunting quality, and "The Companions" by David Morrell, which is one of the best short stories I've ever read, the sort that stays with you long after you read it. The list of authors is quite impressive including Joe Hill, Robert McCammon, and Ramsey Campbell. If you are a fan of Bradbury or quality speculative fiction, this is an anthology that you will want to read. The vision that Sam Weller and Mort Castle had in creating this was definitely fulfilled, and it is a fitting tribute to Bradbury.

Carl Alves - author of Reconquest: Mother Earth ( )
  Carl_Alves | Dec 21, 2014 |
An anthology of stories dedicated to and/or inspired by Ray Bradbury, including quite a few by big-name authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Harlan Ellison. In some there's an explicit and obvious connection to Bradbury, while for others he's more of a vague influence.

Being a fan of Bradbury's, I started this with high hopes, but found the first handful of stories to be quite a letdown, my reaction to them ranging from, "Well, I appreciate what the author is trying to do, but it's not really working for me" to "Geez, this reads like it was written by a high school student." Mostly it was just making me really wish I was reading Bradbury instead. But then, just as I was resigning myself to disappointment, the book took a complete turn and, as if rewarding me for making it that far, presented me with a lovely string of good-to-fantastic stories all in a row. (I will call special attention to Joe Hill's "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain, in particular. It's inspired by a specific Bradbury story -- "The Foghorn" -- without feeling at all derivative, and the themes, tone, and language strongly evoke Bradbury, while the story remains very much Joe Hill's. It's pretty much the platonic ideal of what a story for a collection like this should be, and it's also just darned good.)

The rest of it gets more uneven after that, but I ended the book feeling orders of magnitude better about it all than I did at the start.

Rating: I'm going to give this one a (slightly tenuous) 4/5, as the best stories really do very nicely redeem it from the bad ones. ( )
  bragan | Dec 18, 2014 |
I didn't get around to starting this review until I'd listened for quite a while & there are a lot of stories. I probably won't review them all & certainly not in detail, but figure they were at least decent stories & well read.

Sam Weller and Mort Castle - Introduction - Not the best intro, but serviceable, especially if you're not familiar with Bradbury's history.

Ray Bradbury - Second Homecoming - Quite good, especially the talk about it.

Neil Gaiman - The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury - Apparently unmemorable after just a few days. I really can't even though I listened to bits of it again. It's read in a British accent, probably by Gaiman, so it will probably catch his fans' interest.

Margaret Atwood - Headlife - This was VERY disappointing, especially from 2 big names doing homage to another. The story wasn't innovative, surprising, creepy, or compelling. It was obvious & better handled on Futurama. Then [a:George Takei|260482|George Takei|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1208467364p2/260482.jpg] overacted his reading horribly which made a poor story even worse. He was unintelligible at times. They should have just pissed on Bradbury's grave, but added insult to injury by wasting my time on this.
:(

Jay Bonansinga - Heavy - Now this was a Bradburian tale! Kudos! Surprises, suspense, & black humor every step of the way.

Sam Weller - The Girl In The Funeral Parlor - Ditto! Every bit as creepy as anything Bradbury has done & yet there is an understandable longing, too.

[a:David Morrell|12535|David Morrell|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1218135781p2/12535.jpg] - The Companions - Same as above, excellent! I've read a lot of Morrell's books since he first rocked me with [b:First Blood|113110|First Blood|David Morrell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344264970s/113110.jpg|1348264], which Stallone did a great job in, too. (Yes, the sequels sucked.) Morrell's other spy novels are really good too, but they're tough guy books so it was surprising to see him handle subtle creep & love so well.

[a:Thomas F. Monteleone|207766|Thomas F. Monteleone|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/m_50x66-09ae6e5eb554f8a5ab0515c05488ea34.png] - The Exchange - is an oft overlooked author. It's been years since I've read anything of his. Nice to see this story in the collection.

Lee Martin - Cat on a Bad Couch - sigh. Show, don't tell. He even says so in his afterword. Not a bad story, but a little less telling would have made it better.

Joe Hill - By The Silver Water Of Lake Champlain - was pretty close to fantastic. Can't say much without spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.

Dan Chaon - Little America - Interesting story, but the afterword, what Bradbury meant to him, was even better.

John McNally - The Phone Call - Wow, Twilight Zone script! Shades of Rod Sterling & Bradbury. Another good afterword.

Joe Meno - Young Pilgrims - This one & the next few are all ditto the above. Perfect Bradbury & all have great afterwords.
Robert McCammon - Children Of The Bedtime Machine -
Ramsey Campbell - The Page -
Mort Castle - Light -
Alice Hoffman - Conjure -
John Maclay - Max -
Jacqueline Mitchard - Two Of A Kind -

Up to this point, the stories were pretty wonderful. After this, I didn't care for them much. Missed the points, if they had any. George Takei read another & wasn't too bad, but he'll never be a favorite reader of mine. Some of the afterwords were quite good, though. Bradbury obviously made a huge difference.

Gary Braunbeck - Fat Man And Little Boy -
Bonnie Jo Campbell - The Tattoo -
Audrey Niffenegger - Backwards In Seville -
Charles Yu - Earth: (A Gift Shop) -
Julia Keller - Hayleigh's Dad -
Dave Eggers - Who Knocks? -
Bayo Ojikutu - Reservation 2020 -
Kelly Link - Two Houses -
Harlan Ellison - Weariness - Yuck. Ellison has gotten even worse. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
The minute Ray Bradbury's name is bandied about, expectations run high. To invoke his name in relation to any book – as the author, as the editor, as the inspiration – instantly heaps what can only be considered unwarranted pressure on the contents of that book.

So this collection, sub-titled "All-new stories in celebration of Ray Bradbury", comes with an almost untenable weight of responsibility. Then throw in the storied collection of individuals who have contributed, such as (and I will only point out a few names, because all come with accolades, experience, and talent) Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Kelly Link, etc.

Just to get a feel for the talents and honors this group brought to the table, I tried to tally up the awards as described in the bios. Here is just a taste – five New York Times bestsellers, two Pushcart Award winners, two Nebula Award winners, five Bram Stoker Award winners, a Newberry Award Medalist, a Carnegie Award, one Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection, one Pulitzer Prize winner, one O. Henry Award winner, an Edgar Award Winner, and even more awards, nominations, and prizes than I have the time to include. By the way, the biographies did not contain all information about prize winning (for example, there is no mention of Kelly Link's Nebula Awards), so this list is incomplete for a number of reasons.

All of that – Bradbury's name, the honors, the lofty goal of celebrating a famous man – makes the success of any such book an almost insurmountable task.

Bad news – even if you lowered your expectations when realizing how high those expectations may have gone, the collection still does not succeed. It is, when the quality and impact of the entire collection is taken together, a book that brings together a relatively mundane group of stories.

I approached this collection recognizing that it would be impossible to live up to that hype. But I still expected to see quality writing, some of which might carry the imprint of Bradbury.

What I got was a mixed bag of stories that tried to evoke the wonder of a Bradbury story but did little more than achieve pale imitation, of stories that were "homages" to the man or his stories without any of the magic, snippets and vignettes that did nothing and went nowhere, and an overriding feeling that the task asked of these authors was beyond what most could achieve – a task that was daunting and intimidating and resulted in work that was far from their best.

It all started out quite badly. A soliloquy of a man who is forgetting what he has read (a nod to Fahrenheit 451), a story with a twist where people we don't care about get their comeuppance, a story of love mistimed (that begins to come close to the Bradbury feel, but doesn't seem to get anywhere), and so on. As I said, vignettes, attempts that do not achieve the magic, and pale imitations.

It is not until Joe Hill's "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain" (page 114) that there is some satisfaction for the reader. Hill gets it right; there is the "feel" of a Bradbury story and the telling a darn good tale. There is the hint of nostalgia, there is a fantasy element, there is a painful loss, and there is a real good story about children who find a dead dinosaur. (Just that last line shows how Bradburyesque the story is.)

There are other successful stories.

Dan Chaon's "Little America" about a world where most children have turned into something horrible and feral. Some of the children can be saved, and one man is trying to bring one such child to a location where help can be obtained. The horrors from the past are masterfully (and slowly) revealed and character is built for the two primary characters in the story. Robert McCammon's "Children of the Bedtime Machine" is another story that evokes the best of Bradbury. A woman lives alone in a world where barter has become the basis for all trade. She obtains an old machine that she hopes will help her sleep. Through that machine, she begins to make contact with others and with herself. Gary Braunbeck's "Fat man and Little Boy" about the last days of a gentleman who refuses to accept the mandates of regulatory restrictions on his personal freedoms. Kelly Link's "Two Houses" about ghost stories told aboard a spaceship – and the meaning those stories have about actual occurrence. (And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that I'd buy any book for the chance to read something new by Ms. Link.)

There are other stories that are perfectly fine – not great, but fine.

But, overall, there is just too much disappointment here – wasted talent and wasted time (for the writers and the readers.)

Ultimately, what I wanted was a visit with the memories of Ray Bradbury. What I expected was a collection that would be fun to read. What I got was a few good stories with a mish-mosh of mediocrity. ( )
1 vote figre | Nov 7, 2013 |
Forget the fact that, like most short story collections these days, it goes on a little long in the end. Disregard the stories that don’t do it for you. The other ones – and I’ll bet the grab bag is different for everybody – are what you’re here for. They’re the stories that you’ll hold in your heart just like you hold “The Sound of Thunder” or “The Homecoming” – the stories you will, maybe, someday read to the “Children of the Bedtime Machine”. Or at least to your children. I know I will.
This is the perfect eulogy for Ray - the sound of his children coming home for one last bow.

More at RB: http://ragingbiblioholism.com/2013/10/21/shadow-show/ ( )
  drewsof | Oct 24, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weller, SamEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castle, MortEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Atwood, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bonansinga, JayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Braunbeck, Gary A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Campbell, Bonnie JoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Campbell, RamseyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castle, MortContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chaon, DanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellison, HarlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hill, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoffman, AliceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keller, JuliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maclay, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martin, LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mccammon, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McNally, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Meno, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchard, JacquelynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Monteleone, Thomas F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Niffenegger, AudreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ojikutu, BayoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weller, SamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yu, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Ray Bradbury-peerless storyteller, poet of the impossible, and one of America's most beloved authors-is a literary giant whose remarkable career has spanned seven decades. Now twenty-six of today's most diverse and celebrated authors offer new short works in honor of the master; stories of heart, intelligence, and dark wonder from a remarkable range of creative artists."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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