by Ray Bradbury
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
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 most 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 Unlike most such collections, however, Driving Blind consists almost entirely of previously unpublished material.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 collection opens with "Night Train to Babylon," one of the previously published short stories. Unfortunately, the story's depiction of a man on a train watching a game of three card monte seems rather pointless. Other pieces 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 fashion. 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 1950s and only published now for the first time. "The Mirror" is another story which has the feel of being written several years ago. Using the story of two identical twin to examine the roles of identity and individuality. By implying the action takes place in the 1950s (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 these stories 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 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 an high school annual from eight years before his birth which contains photographs of his classmates, although separated by twenty-six years.
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 copywrite date, they give the feeling 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.
|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|
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