Thursday, August 30, 2012
Shadow Show edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle
It's extremely rare that I find an anthology that I love. Anthologies are tough for me. It seems like you're just bound to hate some of the stories in them, find some of them to be "ok", and if you're lucky find a handful of stories that you're in love with. But with Shadow Show, I found a collection that I absolutely love. And that's no surprise, because all of these authors were asked to write a story that was inspired by Ray Bradbruy. It's a collection that's subtitled "All new stories in celebration of Ray Bradbury." This one will join the ranks of Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantino and The Armless Maiden edited by Terri Windling, two other anthologies that I can think of off the top of my head that I've absolutely loved.
This collection opened with a beautiful introduction by the editors and then a little piece called "A Second Homecoming" by Ray Bradbury himself. I don't know if you've ever read the story "The Homecoming" by Mr. Bradbury himself, but if you haven't, it's the story of all sorts of ghouls who come together every Halloween and one human who gather to celebrate. So for Mr. Bradbury, this was indeed a homecoming of his peers filled with wonderful stories.
It opens with a fantastic story by Neil Gaiman called "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury," but surprisingly, that story was not my favorite. My favorites came later in the anthology, and happened to be by new to me authors. One was "The Companions" by David Morrell, a story of two people who go to an opera one night in some nasty weather who happen upon a couple by chance and continue to meet them almost as if fate would have it...perhaps fate does have it in the cards. Another story was "Fat Man and Little Boy" by Gary A. Braunbeck which really surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. The opening paragraph makes you think you'll be disgusted by the story only to throw that disgust back in your face and instead gives you quite the emotional, touching, sad story. I think my favorite of them all was "Young Pilgrims" by Joe Meno. Wow did I ever love this story. Blown away really. Reminded me of something Patrick Ness would write set on Mars in a way. The story of a young boy and a young girl finding not quite first love, but first...attraction(?) in a place where religious intolerance rules and a mystical, beautiful place awaits but is off limits. Just such a beautiful, heart-wrenching story.
I really could go on and on and on because I seriously loved nearly every story in this collection and I can honestly say there really wasn't a story in the collection that I felt blech about. Such a wonderful collection that ends with what is perhaps Harlan Ellison's last short story, and begins with what may be the last thing Mr. Bradbury wrote. A stellar cast indeed. And a book I think should be on everyone's shelves. This was my first book read for the RIP VII challenge and I'm only hoping that the rest of the books I read can live up to this one!