Review by Booklist Review
Still productive and in frequent demand for public appearances at 84, Ray Bradbury has achieved a status won by few other science-fiction writers. As Sam Weller's highly praised biography, The Bradbury Chronicles (2005), highlighted, Bradbury's broad influence on the genre and popular culture in general justifies his establishment as an American literary icon. Throughout a career spanning more than 65 years, he has tried his hand at fantasy, sf, poetry, mysteries, screenplays (most notably for Moby Dick), theatrical plays, and even opera libretti. Here, in his latest collection of essays, he weighs in on a medley of topics, including the allure of Paris, his enthusiasm for trains, the genesis of his most popular novels, and his reasons for remaining a die-hard optimist. In one essay, he suggests alternate, and often better, endings to famous films; in another, he pays homage to L. Frank Baum's Oz books. By turns whimsical, insightful, and unabashedly metaphoric, his prose is immediately accessible as well as thought-provoking. Fans and nonfans alike should enjoy. --Carl Hays Copyright 2005 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The grand master's many fans will delight in behind-the-scenes stories about the creation of such science fiction classics as The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes (which began as a film project for Gene Kelly), but that's just one of Bradbury's many facets on display in this collection of 37 essays. We also learn about his encounters with famous men, from Walt Disney to Bertrand Russell; adventures in Hollywood; and even his love for going out in the rain. Some of these stories may be familiar, and some are told twice, but Bradbury's friendly, conversational tone always makes them worth hearing again. (The tale of how he overcame his fear of flying especially benefits from the jocular narration.) Some of the essays haven't been seen in decades, like an introduction to a paperback edition of Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which cleverly juxtaposes captains Nemo and Ahab, and a dozen are being published for the first time. Whether Bradbury is talking about cross-country train trips or manned flight to Mars, his enthusiasm remains as contagious as ever. The intimate connection many readers already feel through Bradbury's fiction will be strengthened by these highly personal reminiscences. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
In this collection of 36 informal essays, an unassuming man from Waukegan, IL-and one of the most widely read authors of the 20th century-invites readers to join him in a quest for immortality. Topics range from a meeting with Bertrand Russell to overcoming a fear of flying. The individual selections, some previously unpublished, are both insightful and playful. In one, Bradbury identifies Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio as the inspiration for The Martian Chronicles. In another, he confesses that in order to write a screenplay of Moby-Dick, he became Melville. Reflecting Bradbury's optimism and enthusiasm as well as his sense of joy and wonder in life's possibilities, this book is a glimpse into the past and a paean to the future. When Bradbury speaks, we should listen. A worthwhile addition for every library. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/05.]-Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
In three dozen pieces sometimes prickly and always passionate, SF/fantasy legend Bradbury fires off opinions galore on books, movies, SF and the people and places in his life. As a rule, Bradbury prefers essays that "wake me at dawn and ask to be finished by noon" rather than ones requiring extensive research. Such "familiar essays" can lead to spontaneity but also, at times, as here, to preening and ranting. Though Bradbury diehards will clamor for this uneven collection (especially the dozen unpublished pieces), others may be frustrated. There are glimpses of the lyricism of the author's best writing (a Kansas train ride a half century ago: "So the night went, the train gliding among stilts of fire, huge laboratory experiments of electric flame, then rumbling coughs of thunder as great blind hands of shocked air clapped tight, the night's echoing applause for its own words"), showing that the octogenarian hasn't lost his child-like capacity for wonder. And some anecdotes hold great potential: encountering Al Jolson, W.C. Fields and George Burns while roller-skating through Hollywood as a starstruck 14-year-old; visiting a polite Lord Bertrand Russell and his chilly wife as a young novelist; wrestling over the screenplay for Moby-Dick with John Huston. But Bradbury skimps so much on detail that he sounds less interested in these figures for themselves than in the fact that they crossed his path. Even hymns of praise to Paris and Los Angeles end up inevitably about himself. Sometimes he unapologetically toots his own horn ("No one else had noticed, or written about, the fact that Jules Verne had probably read Herman Melville"), at other times groans about the sorry state of the movie business, science fiction and the media ("Shut off the set. Write your local TV newspeople. Tell them to go to hell"). Essays made up mainly of declamation. Stick with the novels and stories that ensure Bradbury's place in the pantheon. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.