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Driving Blind
Ray Bradbury
Avon Books, 261 pages

Driving Blind
Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of our time. Born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1920, he authored such classics of the genre as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Farenheit 451 (1953) by his early thirties, and continues to produce important work today.
During Mikhail Gorbachov's 1990 summit meeting in New York, he made a special trip to visit "my favorite author," who he claimed to have read in the original versions. Bradbury is American fantasy's great ambassador.

Related Links
ISFDB Bibliography
The Illustrated Man Excerpt
The Ray Bradbury Theatre
PENDULUM by Ray Bradbury and Henry Hasse (1941)

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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There are only an handful of science fiction authors who can make an ongoing career based almost entirely on short stories. Perhaps that most famous practitioner of this art is Harlan Ellison. Another author who is well-known for his short stories is Ray Bradbury. Driving Blind is his latest collection of short stories. Unlike most such collections, however, Driving Blind consists almost entirely of previously unpublished material.

As with most collections, the twenty-one stories included in Driving Blind cover a broad range of topics and an equally broad area of quality. The book opens with "Night Train to Babylon," one of the previously published pieces. Unfortunately, the story's depiction of a man on a train watching a game of three card monte seems rather pointless. Other tales contain interesting ideas, such as "Hello, I Must Be Going," in which a man returns four years after his death to find out why his wife is no longer visiting his grave.

At times, Bradbury's prose seems stilted and old fashioned. Although this works well in period pieces, such as "If MGM is Killed, Who Gets the Lion?", in the majority of the stories contained in Driving Blind it merely gives them the feel of having been written in the 1950's and published now for the first time. "The Mirror" is another story which gives the impression of age. Using the story of two identical twins, it examines the roles of identity and individuality. By implying the action takes place in the 1950's (he mentions the girls growing up in 1934), Bradbury is, again, distancing the modern reader from the story.

Just because many of the stories in Driving Blind have a dated feel doesn't mean they don't have anything to say or aren't entertaining to today's audience. After all, many of the old science fiction novels and stories are still being discovered by new fans and reprinted in anthologies today. One of Driving Blind's freshest stories, set in 1961, has this same dated feel. "Nothing Changes," which, like "The Mirror," deals with the question of individuality, tells of a man who discovers a high school annual from eight years before his birth, which still contains photographs of his classmates.

Nearly all of the stories work, either as entertainment or on a deeper level. They aren't always as effective as they might be, and despite their 1997 copyright date, they give the impression that Avon has published several of Bradbury's stories that he couldn't sell when they were first written. That isn't to say that they are bad stories. They tend to be average Ray Bradbury stories. None of them are standouts to rival "The Illustrated Man," "There Will Comes Soft Rains," or "The Dwarf," but the reader won't find the time spent reading these tales to be wasted.

Contents
Night Train in Babylon Someone in the Rain
If MGM is Killed, Who Gets the Lion?Madame et Monsieur Shill
Hello, I Must Be Going The Mirror
House Divided End of Summer
Grand Theft Thunder in the Morning
Remember Me? The Highest Branch on the Tree
Fee Fie Foe Fum A Woman is a Fast Moving Picnic
Driving Blind Virgin Resusitas
I Wonder What's Become of Sally Mr. Pale
Nothing Changes That Bird That Comes Out of the Clock
That Old Dog Lying in the Dust

Copyright © 1997 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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