Now & Forever: 2 novellas – Somewhere a Band is Playing & Leviathan ‘99
William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2007
Somewhere a Band is Playing
• James Cardiff, a “newspaper writer with aspirations to be a novelist” who comes to a town that he hears is to be torn down to make way for a new highway. He wants to see it before it is gone but also because something else is drawing him there. He finds Summerton, Arizona to be perfect – too perfect in fact. There is no crime, no children and as he soon discovers, no death either.
• Elias Culpepper, an enigmatic older man who has multiple jobs at the train station and becomes somewhat a mentor/friend to James in this odd town.
• Nef, short for Nefertiti, beautiful, ethereal, able to peer into the depth of James’ soul.
According to Mr. Bradbury’s introduction to this story, it had been cooking in him for a long time. It was well worth the wait. The prose is poetic which includes a long poem written by him. The story itself gives one pause to think about what would one do if you just kept on living – forever?
Rating 4 paws out of 5 for another original story from the master!
• Ishmael Hunnicut Jones, astronaut boarding his first rocket into deep space, named after the Bible character who wandered the dead seas because he was conceived and born in space.
• Quell, “a great figure, a creature some seven feet tall and colored the most peculiar shade of green.” (pg 128) He/It is also a telepath, able to both read and speak into other’s minds.
• John Redleigh, first mate onboard the Cetus 7, alternately supports and opposes the Captain on their mission.
• The Captain, blind both literally and figuratively. He was blinded some 30 years earlier by the great comet, Leviathan and is blind to everything else by the pursuit of that same comet
• Elijah, a prophet Quell and Ishmael meet before the Cetus 7 takes off and who prophesies that the mission is doomed and only one man will survive.
I have never ready Moby Dick by Herman Melville but this is Ray Bradbury’s homage to the great novel. In this case the white whale is replaced by a huge white comet named Leviathan and just as Melville’s captain is quite mad with pursuit, so, too, is Bradbury’s. Beautifully written, as all the author’s works are, but also sad because the astronauts know they are doomed and go with the captain any way.
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because “For even the thundering rocket, which rips the soul on Earth, walks silently some few miles high, treads the stars without footfall, as if in awe of the great cathedral of space.” (pg 142)