Ray Bradbury's latest collection of 22 stories, The Cat's Pajamas is just that. This new volume, for which Bradbury himself did the cover illustration, includes many uncollected stories from his long writing career as well as a number of recent entries. Just two of the stories were published before; the rest were found in Bradbury's basement files by his biographer.
No matter the decade, Bradbury's voice rings true. If the stories weren't marked with the year they were written, there would be only one or two in which the reader could definitely pinpoint the date, so timeless is Bradbury's writing. One of the stand-out and genuinely chilling stories here is "The Island," which explores what happens when someone breaks into the house of a security-obsessed family. Most of the stories are more in line with Bradbury's familiar style: a little nostalgic, with a touch of humor, and occasionally a little satire, as when a group of senators drinks too much at an Indian casino and manages to lose the whole United States.
The stories only become a mite awkward when Bradbury attempts to add a bit too much of his own politics as in "Chrysalis," where his earnestness overwhelms an interesting if slight idea. However, The Cat's Pajamas has more than enough goodies to make longtime fans happy and still work as a strong introduction for new readers.
In one of those strange coincidences that regularly bedevil the publishing world, another new collection of science fiction stories is also titled The Cat's Pajamas (Tachyon, $24.95, 262 pages, ISBN 1892391155), this one by World Fantasy and Nebula award winner James Morrow. Although Morrow's writing is a little darker and a little weirder than Bradbury's, readers are advised to check out both sets of The Cat's Pajamas.
Gavin J. Grant writes from Northampton, Massachusetts.