Book News: Autumnal Bradbury, A Return To Hogwarts, Fate of The Drunken Reader & More!


Why Autumn Belongs to . . . 
Some authors can be attached to a certain season, and fall clearly belongs to the late great Ray Bradbury.

Sherlock Coming to Big Screen 
With the new season of Sherlock coming soon, the premiere is planned for January 1 with plans to have it show in select theaters.

Neil Gaiman News 
Gaiman is having more of his works adapted to the TV screen, this time short stories to being filming this month.

[read more . . .]

Book News: Books To Make You Queasy, When Neil Met Kazuo, You Don’t Know Ray (Bradbury) & More!


Do You Know Ray Bradbury?
Ten things I bet you didn’t know about Ray Bradbury.

Book Art 
These images take your imaginings of folded book art way beyond your limits.

Folio Society Books 
The Folio Society has recently produced some truly beautiful and incredible books, so check these out.

Books That May Not Agree With You
Here are five books you will want to avoid reading on an empty stomach.

[read more . . .]

“The Time Traveler’s Almanac” Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Tor, 2014)

Time Traveler's Almanac
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If you’re any sort of fan of time travel, whether it’s Back to the Future, H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, or even Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure; or perhaps you enjoy discussing, debating and at times lambasting the possibility and impossibility of time paradoxes; then you need to get yourself a copy of The Time Traveler’s Almanac.

Well-known editors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer do a magnificent job of grouping the many time travel stories together into categories, and breaking them up with nonfiction articles on different aspects of time travel. The greats are of course included in this fantastic anthology, including Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, H. G. Wells, George R. R. Martin and Ursula K. LeGuin. But there is also a plethora of other, lesser known authors all with their own individual and unique stories on time travel.

There’s the one about a person who travels through time in New Delhi seeing its many forms and the variety of inhabitants throughout its history. The story about a cheap, wonderful apartment in a fancy area of San Francisco, the catch is you have to live in it in the past. One of the most moving stories is “Red Letter Day” set in a world where you receive a letter from your future self on the day of your graduation about how you should lead your life; and what it means for those who don’t receive a letter.

The Time Traveler’s Almanac features 70 stories and has a little bit of everything that can be sampled slowly over time – as I did – or gobbled up as quickly as possible. You’ll be taken to many different worlds, in different times, and no one will be like the other.

Originally written on February 11, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Time Traveler’s Almanac from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Guest Post: Top 5 Ray Bradbury Books

One of the most enduring aspects of science fiction author Ray Bradbury’s legacy is his ability to humanize something as cold and alien as the future and leave readers examining their own relationships to the worlds and societies they live in. He was a prolific writer who had completed three novels and over 600 short stories at the time of his passing in 2012, but five of his works stand as the greatest testaments to his genre-transcendent ability to tell stories.

  1. The Halloween Tree

Bradbury’s 1972 novel The Halloween Tree combines elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and historical fiction to tell the story of nine friends’ journey through time. Throughout their jaunts across time and space, the friends learn about the origins of Halloween, from ancient pagan practices and Druid priests to the Mexican Dias de Muertos celebrations. The novel was originally written as a script for an animated film that was supposed to be directed by Chuck Jones. Even though the collaboration with Jones never fully materialized, an Emmy-winning animated adaptation premiered on television in 1993. Disneyland displays a Bradbury-inspired Halloween tree every year with their Halloween decorations.


  1. The Illustrated Man

Although The Illustrated Man was mostly composed to versions of stories Bradbury had already previously published, it is considered one of his most significant collections. The entire work is framed around a transient man who is covered from head to toe in vibrant and constantly shifting tattoos that each tell a story. Most of the stories have strikingly philosophical focuses that utilize the future and its imagined technologies to ask questions about human nature. For example, the story The Other Foot touches on the deep wounds created by racism while Kaleidoscope has deeply introspective and existentialist themes.


  1. The Martian Chronicles

Throughout this collection course of nearly thirty short stories, readers are given an image of a devastated Earth and a Mars colonization mission are painted, leading to genocide of the native Martians that parallels the devastation of Native Americans following European colonization. Bradbury poignantly reflects on humanities capacity for destruction and environmental concerns through a character in the story “And the Moon Be Still As Bright” when he states “We’ll rip it up, rip the skin off, and change it to fit ourselves…We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.” Bradbury always insisted the wasn’t as interested in “predicting” the future as much as preventing it, and he clearly anticipated modern concerns about the environment, and thankfully people are generally looking to reduce their carbon footprint (more details here). Another story that feels eerily relevant is “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” which details a fully-automated house which self destructs in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust — and the story is all the more chilling nowadays, in the age of home automation systems.

  1. Something Wicked This Way Comes

In Something Wicked, Bradbury departs somewhat dramatically from his normal futuristic setting and instead writes about a supernatural carnival that has settled down in an anonymous Midwestern American town. Rather than using humanity’s relationship to technology to ask the important questions, Bradbury utilizes more mystical plot devices such as a carousel that increases or reverses a rider’s age depending on which direction it is spinning and a blind fortune teller with telepathic powers. Ultimately, the novel is about good and evil and a few deeper themes like eternal youth and hubris and its relevance has not faded in the fifty years it has been in print.


  1. Fahrenheit 451

To put it simply, Fahrenheit 451 is considered Bradbury’s masterpiece and a starkly unsettling view of the near future. The novel is told through the perspective of a “fireman”, who is tasked with finding and burning hidden caches of books which are now illegal in a world saturated by the media and a mindless public. The book was formulated during the harrowing McCarthy trials in which Senator Joe McCarthy was leading so-called “witch hunts” against suspected Communists in the United States, which lead to the destruction of many persons’ lives. Fahrenheit 451 encapsulates the ultimate fear of every thinking human being: a world where free thought and discussion have given way to mass media and groupthink. Bradbury also put his uncanny knack for accurately predicting the future when he described tiny electronic radios that fit into people’s ears a la Bluetooth headsets, giant flatscreen TV’s that would dominate people’s free time, social media and its resulting isolation, shortening attention spans and even ATMs.

Kate Voss

You might also like these other guest posts from Kate Voss:

Wizard of Oz Spinoffs

Movies for Bookworms

Top Five Novels That Make Great Holiday Gifts

Bookbanter Column: Ray Bradbury Remembered (June 11, 2012)

On June 5th, 2012, we lost one of the greatest writers of our time: Ray Bradbury.

He lived to the impressive age of 91, and continued to write and do signings and readings well into his eighties.

He is perhaps best known for some of the most important science fiction novels of the twentieth century, such as The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, which continue to be read not just by fans, but by high school students across the country.

One of the early pioneers of science fiction, up there with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, his short stories are unique and unforgettable.

The short story was Bradbury’s true forte, with his incredible ability to encapsulate so much within a limited number of pages.  His lyrical prose, compelling characters, and moving plots made him a writer not just to be categorized in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, but to be enjoyed by mainstream readers across the globe.

Bradbury in 1999

I got to meet Ray Bradbury at a signing and reading in the fall of 1999.

It was at California State University Long Beach, where I was currently working through the second semester of my Bachelor’s.  Coincidentally, it was also the first date with this new girl I’d met recently; that girl has been with me ever since, and this year we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary.  The reading took place in the university theater and my wife had been asked to control the spotlight, which was a great bit of hands on experience for her lighting class.

As we sat there in the booth, watching and listening to the great Ray Bradbury talk, I can remember being torn between showing my interest in this new girl in my life, but also wanting to listen to this incredible writer talk.  It was an intimate moment in every sense of the work.  At the end of the reading, my wife got her book signed, as well as one for her dad, who had introduced this great author to her at a young age.

It was a very special event I shall never forget.

With an average reading of a hundred books a year, there are a few rituals I have incorporated into my reading throughout each year.

One is the reading of A Christmas Carol during the week before Christmas.

The other is the reading of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree before Halloween each year.

Even though the book was published in 1972, there is a timelessness about it, as Bradbury perfectly encapsulates the exciting feeling of Halloween, no matter what age you are, and then takes you back in time through a history of origins for this celebrated night known throughout the world.  It is a magical tale that’s a delight to read every year.

The Martian Chronicles is my favorite Bradbury novel, and I can remember reading it for the first time in my science fiction class in early 2000, and found it fascinating that Bradbury was pushing the boundaries in so many ways with this book, not just with science fiction, but also with the development of the science fiction novel.

Bradbury, like many of the other science fiction greats, began as a short story writer publishing in the science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines that were so popular at the time.  But with the development and growing popularity of the genre novel, he turned to the longer form.   

The Martian Chronicles was one of those unique books that began as a bunch of published short stories that Bradbury converted into a novel by writing “linking” stories to make the collection feel more like a seamless novel.

Ray Bradbury will be missed by many.

He was not simply a delight to read for so many fans, but an inspiration for many writers, and continues to be so.  Stephen King had this to say on his passing:

“Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and three hundred great stories. One of the latter was called ‘A Sound of Thunder.’ The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant’s footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty,”

while Neil Gaiman said,

“The landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had him in our world.”

But then the beauty of the written and published and print word is its ability to last long after the author has left this world.

While we have lost one of the giants in the world of writing, whose beautiful prose will be long missed, we can all still enjoy his stories and books for the rest of our lives.  And for future generations, they can discover the alien red worlds of Mars in The Martian Chronicles, or learn of a doomed dystopian future in Fahrenheit 451, or feel the strong emotional pull of the great leviathan in “The Fog Horn.”

But it is up to us to keep Bradbury’s work alive and read.

I know I will continue to tell family and friends and eventually my children about this great author who thrilled, delighted and entertained the world with his incredible stories, and about the one time I even got to meet him.

Originally published on Forces of Geek.

Halloween Recommended Reads

We’re coming up on Halloween once again when everything goes spooky and dark, and we like to get scared by things.. Well, here’s a Halloween story I wrote and a list of recommended reads for kids and adults of books that will really give you some shivers . . .

Click on the image below to read the free Halloween Story

A Halloween Story


And now some recommended Halloween reads to chill your bones and make your blood freeze . . .


Among the Ghosts Coraline The Graveyard Book

Halloween Tree Rot and Ruin


Neverland I am Not a Serial Killer Feed Horns
Death Troopers
The Strain The Terror The Living Dead
Living Dead 2
World War Z Full Dark No Stars Handling the Undead
Illustrated Man Handling the Undead Handling the Undead Handling the Undead

“The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury (Doubleday, 1951)

Illustrated Man

The recent passing of Ray Bradbury was a very sad loss for the writing world, as we lost not just one of the foremost science fiction writers of our time, but one of our greatest storytellers and writers period.  But even with his loss, Ray Bradbury will continue to be read and enjoyed by many fans, as well as be discovered by new readers for the first time.  The Illustrated Man is an excellent example for those looking to give Ray Bradbury a try and find out just how good he is.

The book is told with the framing story of the illustrated man – a man covered in tattoos that when stared at by others come to life and tell their own stories.  Stories of a future high-tech nursery where children play amongst real animals, but when their parents threaten to take this supreme toy away, they have a plan to take care of them once and for all.  A story of a future Mars colonized by black people, but now Earth is on the brink of obliteration and the white man needs a new place to live; will the colonists of Mars allow this immigration?  There is the moving story of “The Rocket Man” who loves his wife and son ever so much, but continues to feel the yearning  pull of space and can never remain on Earth too long.  In “The City” some space travelers discover an abandoned city on a planet, but as they search through it, it seems the city is not uninhabited after all.

The stories in The Illustrated Man will move you, they’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry; they’ll make you terrified and also make you think about the way your world is and about the way it might one day be.  This is Bradbury at his best and no fan of the short story – no matter the genre – will want to skip this one.

Originally written on July 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Illustrated Man from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The October Country” by Ray Bradbury (Ballantine Books, 1955)

October Country

Ray Bradbury is undoubtedly one of our greatest short stories writers of our time, and perhaps of all time.  Whichever collection of his you find yourself picking up, you will instantly be delighted with his magical worlds and lyrical prose.  A lot of his stories go one step further, leaving you with a sense of wonder and contemplation.  Bradbury shouldn’t be simply considered and categorized as a science fiction or fantasy writer; he ultimately writes about people and their interactions with each other and with reality, albeit true or made up.  The October Country is a perfect example of this, with a most unique anthology of stories.

In the opening tale, “The Dwarf,” we get to meet a most unusual character of short stature who spends his days paying what little money he has at the carnival to visit the Hall of Mirrors where he stares at himself, taller than life.  In “Skeleton,” true horrors are revealed in this brilliant story where a man becomes convinced that his bone structure is trying to escape his body, until he meets a doctor who agrees with him and apparently has a penchant for one’s marrow.  In “The Small Assassin,” a child is a precious thing, but this newborn seems to have a vengeful urge to kill the one who gave birth to it.  “The Scythe” is a story about a poor family discovering an abandoned farmstead; they move in and live off the land, enjoying the food and life it provides, but the father knows there is a cost to bear each day he goes out and scythes the field that was clear the day before.  In perhaps the most haunting tale of the collection, “The Wind,” we pay witness to an invisible force that wants to kill.

The October Country is a powerful collection featuring many of Bradbury’s best stories and revealing his excellence as both a storyteller and a skilled writer.  Readers looking to try Bradbury for the first time would do well to start with this collection.

Originally written on May 18, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The October Country from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Brave New Worlds” edited by John Joseph Adams (Nightshade Books, 2011)

Brave New Worlds

1984 came and went without Big Brother rearing his ugly head in quite the way he did in the book; though one could say things got a little hairy during George W. Bush’s eight years of the Patriot Act and Home land Security, and yet in today’s world can you really say that you are completely free to do as you please without feeling like anybody’s watching you?  Perhaps you see this world in a different light: do you use a disposable phone, screen your calls, use “incognito mode” in all your online browsing, and feel like various agencies within the government are watching you constantly, whether it’s where you’re shopping, what you’re eating, or perhaps what books you’re checking out of the library.  If this is the case, you’re going to want to own a copy of Brave New Worlds, and if it’s not, well, you should read it too, because it’s a really fantastic collection of stories of a dystopian future where freedom is a whispered, secret word, not to be uttered aloud to anyone.

John Joseph Adams, bestselling editor of such great anthologies as Wastelands and The Living Dead does a fantastic job of collecting stories of dystopian worlds, covering just about the entire history of the science fiction genre.  Brave New Worlds starts off with “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson – a story many of us became familiar with in high school and college, but can now be read for sheer enjoyment; to Ursula LeGuin’s unforgettable “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” – a story of a paradise where every day is a joy for its citizens, except for one child locked away in a cell in constant suffering.  Many big name authors make the cut, with the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Orson Scott Card; as well as some more recent bestselling names of the genre, like Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow and Carrie Vaughan.

Some of these dystopian stories are similar, some are completely unique and surprising; all playing on the concept of having our necessary freedoms stripped away from us, leaving us hollow shells; the question is whether we choose to go along blindly and submit, or fight.  Perhaps you’re wondering if there’s a story about a future where young people donate their organs to old people, or looking forward the original short story of Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report”; either way,  Brave New Worlds will be an absolute delight for anyone who enjoys a story about a doomed future.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 6, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Cretaceous Dawn: 65 Million Years in the Past, the Journey Begins” by L. M. Graziano and M. S. A. Graziano (Leapfrog Press, 2008)

Cretaceous Dawnstarstarstar

The authors of Cretaceous Dawn –Lisa M. Graziano, former professor of Oceanography, writer and researcher; and Michael S. A. Graziano, professor of Neuroscience – are clearly experienced when tackling the subject of what life was like 65 millions years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.  In an adventure style like that of Jurassic Park and Ray Bradbury’s short story “Sound of Thunder,” Cretaceous Dawn is a fun play on  what if people existed with dinosaurs.

Julian Whitney is a paleontologist and a college professor who feels his life has little to offer in the way of entertainment, and he spends his days teaching his classes and hoping something will happen between him and the attractive physics professor, Yariko.  Whitney is surprisingly called to Yariko’s government funded and guarded lab to check on photos of unusual beetles at the start of the book.   As he studies the photos that were taken very recently, he can’t believe what he is seeing: the insects appear to be of a species that hasn’t existed since the dinosaurs, which Whitney is used to seeing in fossilized form.

As Yariko and Whitney study the photos, her colleague, Dr. Shanker, starts up the quantum particle accelerator, while the two security guards return from lunch.  There is a sudden explosion.  Yariko, Whitney, Dr. Shanker and his dog (who was in the lab at the time) and one and a half security guards are miraculously transported back in time and find themselves alive and relatively well, living in the world of dinosaurs.  Meanwhile police chief Sharon Earles is left with a much destroyed physics lab, a government-funded project gone horribly wrong, and half the body of a guard.

Cretaceous Dawn is a compelling story with plenty of plot and subplot going on.   The authors do an excellent job of creating the juxtaposition between the 65 million year old world and the present day police investigation, keeping the reader interested until the end.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on October 24th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.