My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“Shadow Show” is a collection of stories inspired by the works of Ray Bradbury, written by some of today’s greatest authors- Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Harlan Ellison, among others. As such, I should have absolutely adored it.
The problem, I think, is that the spirit of Bradbury’s stories-what made them quintessentially his- is a lot like pornography; you know it when you see it. I didn’t see it in a lot of these stories. An aspect here or there, maybe, but not the perfect blend that he captured time after time. Of course, the authors included in this anthology are not Ray Bradbury, and few could hope to achieve his mastery of story-telling, but I finished most of these stories unsatisfied. They didn’t move me the way that Bradbury’s stories, especially his short stories, always do.
There are two stories that caught me in the same place, though; stories that were poignant yet chilling, delightful and terrible.
“The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury,” by Neil Gaiman- a man who, having treasured the works of Bradbury his entire life, suddenly finds himself forgetting them. What will happen if he forgets? Is it possible that he is the only one holding onto these memories, and that they’re about to be lost forever? This was a beautiful story (not that I would have expected anything less from Mr. Gaiman).
“Children of the Bedtime Machine,” by Robert McCammon- a hard, lonely woman, who finds her way back to wonder and joy through the stories of Bradbury, and who passes it on. Lovely. Also one of the only stories in the anthology to end on a happy note, which I thought was sort of terrible. It’s not as if all of Bradbury’s works ended tragically.
All in all, I’d suggest that you skip this and actually read some of Bradbury’s books. My personal favorites include From the Dust Returned and The Martian Chronicles, which has my favorite short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains.”