Saturday, November 30, 2013

Exclusive! Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury Volume 2

Yes, it's a world exclusive: I can now reveal the contents of the second volume of The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: a Critical Edition, Volume 2: 1943-1944. The book is due for release from Kent State University Press in September 2014, and seems to already be available for pre-order from the publisher, here.

Attentive readers may have noticed that this second volume covers a much smaller time period than Volume 1, which spanned the period 1938-1943. This effectively reflects the accelerating pace of Bradbury's career as a professional writer, not necessarily writing more than previously, but getting more work published.

Without any further ado, here's the list of stories for Volume 2, courtesy of the book's editor, Jon Eller from the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies:
  1. The Sea Shell
  2. Everything Instead of Something (Doodad)*
  3. The Ducker*
  4. The Shape of Things (Tomorrow's Child)
  5. The Night
  6. Perchance to Dream (Asleep in Armageddon)
  7. Referent
  8. The Calculator (Jonah of the Jove Run)**
  9. The Emissary
  10. And Watch the Fountains**
  11. The Million Year Picnic
  12. The Man Upstairs
  13. Reunion
  14. Autopsy (Killer, Come Back to Me!)**
  15. The Long Night
  16. Lazarus Come Forth**
  17. There Was an Old Woman
  18. The Trunk Lady
  19. Jack-in-the-Box
  20. Where Everything Ends***
  21. Bang! You're Dead!
  22. Enter-the Douser (Half-Pint Homicide)
  23. Rocket Skin**
  24. Forgotten Man (It Burns Me Up!)
  25. The Jar
* These stories have not previously been collected in a Bradbury book, although they have been reprinted in anthologies in addition to their original magazine publication.

** These stories have never been published in a book; their only previous appearances were in their first magazine publication.

*** Only previously available within a limited edition volume from Subterranean Press.

The Collected Stories series was initiated by Bill Touponce and Jon Eller, with Bill as General Editor and Jon as Textual Editor. Now that Bill has retired (but still working on independent projects such as his recent book on Lovecraft, Dunsany and Bradbury), Jon has taken on all the editorial duties himself, supported by a small team of editorial associates at Indiana University's Institute for American Thought, and a couple of consulting editors: Donn Albright and a certain Phil Nichols.

Since the aim of the Collected Stories series is to establish Bradbury's versions of the texts - rather than versions modified by a magazine editor - Bradbury's own preferred titles are being used here wherever there is primary or secondary evidence to support it. So, for example, "Doodad" has it's original title "Everything Instead of Something" restored.

It's not just the titles: Collected Stories aims to identify Bradbury's intentions for each text, and this means going back to the author's own manuscripts where possible. In this instance,  Jon is using original Bradbury typescripts for three stories ("The Shape of Things", "The Man Upstairs", and "Where Everything Ends"), and original opening pages for nine others. Of these, Jon reports "We have first-page carbons that Ray appears to have saved as proof of date and authorship while stories circulated during the war years." Through this documentary research, the editorial team is able to not only retrieve otherwise forgotten story titles, but in some cases to also retain Bradbury's preferred spellings and compounds and reject the house-styled changes imposed by various pulp magazine editors.

Another aim of the series is to establish the chronology of composition, which previously was somewhat shrouded in mystery. There are at least two reasons for this. First, Bradbury's stories might circulate for a number of years before being chosen for publication by a magazine editor, and so we have a situation where a story might be written in 1943, but not be published until 1947. And second, most of us are familiar with the stories from their appearance in Bradbury's books, giving us the mistaken impression that stories published side-by-side are of a similar vintage - leading many a critic to draw invalid conclusions about Bradbury's authorship. The stories collected in Volume 2 span a compositional period from April 1943 to March 1944, one year of professional output.

For scholars, this volume will once again offer a new insight into Bradbury's developing professional authorship, and make plain his evolving ideas by showing those ideas in chronological order. For the general Bradbury reader, it will offer a chance to enjoy a number of previously rare and obscure tales. September 2014 is a long way off, but the wait will be worth it!

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