It always seems to be the height of summer when a clutch of Bradbury books appears over the horizon. I recently received my copy of Match to Flame, the latest in a series of books from Gauntlet press that reveal the complex history of Bradbury's fictions.
This one, edited by Bradbury's bibliographer Donn Albright, shows how Fahrenheit 451 didn't spring from nowhere, but was the culmination of a line of thought which Bradbury had been following through a number of short fictions in the years prior to F451's publication. Match to Flame includes a contextual essay from Bill Touponce, an essay on the texts themselves from Jon Eller, and an amazing set of stories, some of which appear here for the first time. This volume is also the first opportunity to view what remains of the fragments of Bradbury's first attempt at novel-writing, the never- completed When Ignorant Armies Clash By Night.
Coming soon from Gauntlet is another piece of textual detective work from Donn Albright, Somewhere a Band is Playing. This includes Bradbury's novella, which he developed from a screen treatment he originally wrote for Katharine Hepburn. The Gauntlet book includes pages from the screenplay and various fragments of Bradbury's developing story idea.
You can watch Bradbury tell his Katharine Hepburn anecdote on this YouTube page.
The Gauntlet titles are quite expensive, because they are limited editions. However, if you are lucky enough to live in a country where the dollar is relatively weak (the UK, for instance!), now is the time to get online and pick up these bargains. Match to Flame is already shipping - I received copy number 158 out of 750. Somewhere a Band is Playing is currently advertised for release in "Fall 2007".
If you have no interest in seeing how Bradbury got to his completed story, and just want to read it, you need Bradbury's latest book from his mass-market publisher, Wm Morrow. Now and Forever is an unusual book, being neither a novel nor a short story collection: it contains two novellas, "Somewhere a Band is Playing" and "Leviathan '99".
Both of these stories have been worked and re-worked by Bradbury many times over the years. Leviathan, in particular, has periodically made public appearances as a radio play, stage play and opera. Now, at last, the prose version is being made available. I assume that Bradbury was never able to expand the story to a sustainable novel length, and has settled on the novella as being the most appropriate form for the finished text.
Now and Forever is due for release on 4 September 2007. Here are direct links for pre-ordering:
Now and Forever at Amazon.com
Now and Forever at Amazon.co.uk