Book Review: Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury


AUTHOR: Various (Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, and many more). Edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle.

GENRE: A bit of everything – Short Story Collection.

SIMILAR/RELATED BOOKS, MOVIES, TV: The Illustrated Man (book), The Twilight Zone (TV), Neverwas (film).

PREMISE: Today’s most popular and celebrated authors offer new short stories as tribute to Ray Bradbury—the man who inspired them all.

FIRST LINE: “I am forgetting things, which scares me.” (from Neil Gaiman’s “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”).

WARNING: This book is a gateway drug. Once you’ve tasted the first story, you’ll consume the second, third, and so on. Then, feeling excited, empowered and a bit reckless, you’ll try a new book by one of the authors you sampled in Shadow Show. Even worse, you’ll want to devour everything Ray Bradbury.

And it will be a delicious reverie. With luck, one from which you’ll never recover.

Even if you’ve never heard of Bradbury, Shadow Show is a fantastic short story collection by today’s most popular, creative, and respected authors. The stories are full of hope, desolation, wonder, admiration, horror, and awe—a fitting tribute to one of the 20th century’s most imaginative influences. Shadow Show is a testament to the power of masterful storytelling.

Consider these ideas/premises:

One of two companion spaceships disappears. Or does it? The folks aboard its twin aren’t so sure.

A husband and wife discover the connection between coincidence and the afterlife.

On the verge of seizing his every nasty desire, a selfish business tycoon gets his comeuppance instead.

What happens when a young man encounters his soul mate in the funeral parlor, a few days too late?

On an alien world, young missionaries fail the old beliefs, but in doing so, may just achieve a victory.

A young magician finds what he seeks in the most unlikely and ordinary of places.

Even in the lonely post-Apocalypse, Bradbury helps an old woman find hope.

The next step of human evolution is a leap toward horror.

Children bend the boundary that holds myth at bay.

An old telephone can call the past.

I won’t tell you that every story is a knockout. Some are better than others, quite a few are excellent, and there are two that, honestly, didn’t do anything for me. But that’s 2 out of 26—a remarkable ratio. Besides, since each story is a different voice and hops from genre to genre, much of it comes down to personal taste. I can confidently declare that the overall quality is very high—we just might disagree about our favorites.

But you will have favorites. That’s the important point.

All I ask is that you give these stories a try and let them guide you later on. That’s my request. And if you comply, I’ll accept your thanks. Have fun and don’t fear getting lost—no matter where you find yourself, you’ll be in fantastic company.

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