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Story Time Fred E. Killinger Jr. Review by
Fred E. Killinger Jr.
Somewhere A Band is Playing
by Ray Bradbury

Gauntlet Press
Cover Art: Ray Bradbury

This review
is based upon the Gauntlet Press limited edition novella.

Somewhere a band is playing
Oh listen, oh listen, that tune!
If you learn it you'll dance on forever
In June…
And yet June…
And more…June…
And Death will be dumb and not clever
And Death will lie silent forever
In June and June and more June.

So begins this story, as James Cardiff shuts his eyes and sees these and other verses behind the lids that make him begin his journey to a place called Summerton, Arizona.

James Cardiff leaps out of bed that very night and catches the nearest train to reach this place he has dreamed about. As he finds out, no train stops at Summerton because it is not on any map found anywhere. He leaps off of the still moving train at an old and dusty station in the middle of the desert without really thinking about it and is greeted as if he was expected all along.

Here Cardiff finds a town that time has forgot. Wagons still deliver fresh loaves of bread to all of the town’s residents; giant sunflowers turn their yellow faces to the sun at every house on every lawn in town. There are no doctors, no children at play, one small graveyard and an empty school sitting as if never used. All of the town’s residents are friendly and healthy.

James is taken to a large, old Victorian boarding house called the Egyptian View Arms where he meets the mysterious and beautiful owner Nefertiti. He feels immediately that he has known and loved her forever and that she has been waiting for his arrival as well.

What secrets does this town hold, where no one seems to grow old, and most oddly never dies? What secrets does the cemetery hold where it seems gravestones hold birthdates but no dates of death? Does Nef hold the answers he is looking for and should he immediately let the residents know that the state is planning on razing their town to make way for a new highway?

Here is a novella that was 50 years in the making. It began as an idea for Ray Bradbury in the 1950’s, took many twists and turns, was made into a teleplay that was never produced, went through numerous revisions, name and location changes, and finally was put aside and never picked up again until the late 1990’s. This work is Ray Bradbury at the height of his imaginative powers. This invokes the Bradbury whose prose holds a dreamlike quality and you can feel the seasons and places as he describes them.

This novella from Gauntlet Press, with their usual attention to details and extras is not just a wonderful story, but also contains all of the fragments that built up over the years from Ray Bradbury, finally culminating in this final novella. If not for the persistence and patience of Editor Donn Albright, most of these documents would never have made it into the pages of any finished work. He tirelessly gathered up all the old manuscripts, bits and pieces of the story with different character names and places, and put them all together into this ultimate collection that readers can cherish. See how this story evolved and changed over a 50 year period, giving a lesson into how a story is created from start to finish. This novella is not only the magical story, but also a piece of reading history. Be sure to pick up this book before they are all sold. Highly recommended!

5 Bookwyrms


This review copyright 2007 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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Immortality found in Arizona is a running theme in fiction.
Check out our review of
by Robert E. Silverberg.

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