John Clute and Peter Nichols (1995) state that Ray Bradbury's vintage years for short stories were from 1946 to 1955, and that seems to be about right. Collections featuring many of these stories are _The Vintage Bradbury_ (1965) and _Twice Twenty-Two_ (1966). Collections of later stories-- such as _The Machineries of Joy_ (1964) and _I Sing the Body Electric_ (1969)-- are weaker and softer than his earlier collections.
_Quicker Than the Eye_ (1996) is a collection of twenty-two late Bradbury stories. I expected to be mildly disappointed by these tales. I am pleased to report that I was not. This is the best batch of Bradbury stories that I have read in a long time. Of course, the stories are not precisely the same as those of the vintage years. The earlier tales were influenced more by _Weird Tales_ and _Dime Detective_, while the later tales are influenced more by _Fantasy and Science Fiction_ and _Playboy_. Both early and late stories have poetic styles, but the poetry in the later tales is more restrained and controlled. In short, the later stories are more literate, if less electrifying.
There is another difference worth noting. A recurring subject matter in Bradbury's early fiction is childhood (especially boyhood). In this collection, however, most of the characters are children who have become adults. Some of these adults look upon the coming of children with a mixture of fear and love ("Remember Sasha?"). Others set out to avenge and protect children ("The Finnegan").Still others are concerned with the guiding of young people ("That Woman on the Lawn," "Exchange"). But the central characters are mostly Bradburt-as-an-Adult rather than Bradbury-as-a-Boy.
Bradbury's love of books and libraries is present in this collection. In "Exchange," a young soldier visits a library and a librarian and finds that you _can_ go home again. In "Last Rites," an eccentric inventor goes back in time to give absolution to writers who died neglected. "Dorian in Excelsus" involves an imitator of Dorian Gray who went too far out of control.
Other stories worthy of note include the title story, about a magic show that delighted the women and embarrassed the men; "Another Fine Mess," a wonderful Hollywood ghost story; and "The Very Gentle Murders," which reminded me of an earlier John Collier story. Bradbury's tale is the more outrageous of the two.
No matter how old Mr. Bradbury got, he never lost his touch. Mr. Bradbury was brilliant at making the mundane world a land of mystery, wonder and glory. This anthology features the master writer with a whole bunch of his wonderfully quirky, bizarre, humbling, tender stories. You read with delight about a young couple shyly exploring love and, with it, a girl’s transition from child to woman. There is a weeping woman who may be a ghost or something else entirely. Two elderly women listen rapturously to the groanings of two vanished comedians. A family has a fateful decision to make when a car drive lands them in a forgotten world.
What a joy it is to discover his later works. This novel shows that Bradbury never lost his touch. Time could not dim his glory nor age his powers. For Bradbury fans or even those who’ve never heard of him (where have YOU been?), this anthology is quintessential storytelling.
Very standard b-grade thriller fare, cf. Tom Clancy.
Maybe it has a big turnaround, but I couldn't push myself much past the first hundred pages.
Cardboard characters that are described as massively intelligent and resourceful, yet are lucky to exhibit the maturity and insight of adolescents. The arch-villain is supposed to be smart enough to have fooled basically everyone on earth to run a virtual world government, yet he's utterly transparent. Oh, and he casually hits on a sexy reporter, forcing her to sleep with him to get access to a story she wants - as if he's not actually handing her a much bigger story/blackmail threat. It's gratuitously playing to the seedy crowd.
Nothing much here particularly close to the Fahrenheit 451 or even The Day it Rained Forever standard.
A pretty self-indulgent collection: in the afterword Bradbury lauds his practise of pounding out a largely unedited story each morning, crediting his muse for forcing him (almost unwilling) to sit down and get the words typed. He's established enough that the results are publishable: that is, either they represent professional work, or they simply will be published regardless of the quality because his name will guarantee the sale of a few units. Unfortunately most fall in the latter category.
As a trend I find his breakneck style disjointed and unpleasant. This is deliberate in the stream-of-consciousness pun-laden Freudian Unterderseaboat Doktor (reminiscent of a fashion for this generally irritating type of writing that popped up not infrequently in a Hugo winners of the 60s and 70s anthology I remember), but still apparent in several other stories. Sentimentality is also there in several stories - something to be forgiven in a writer of his age? I don't know, just a bit too much ego there for me: we rarely seem to escape the values and dreams of someone who can't think of anything better than being a successful writer.
I enjoyed only a couple of the stories - oddly as it turns out two on the edge of horror. The Finnegan is capably done in the style of writers of Conan-Doyle's vintage, and The Witch Door sets up a nifty twilight zone type anomaly between past and future. Otherwise it's back to the cheap bin for this one.