Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bradbury 13: A Sound of Thunder

I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room. –Ray Bradbury

I apologize for the interruption to my regularly scheduled Bradbury 13 post last Wednesday. It was a bit of a last minute decision. I was busy doing a week of giveaways and since I was organizing prizes and posts for the giveaway, I decided to take a week off of Bradbury because even though I had the skeleton written out, I wanted to do a little more reading up on this story and flesh out my post a bit more. I wanted to do the story justice because it is in my top three.

A Sound of Thunder was first published in Collier's Weekly magazine in 1952. It was included in The Golden Apples of the Sun in 1953, which has since been reprinted in several different forms and under several different titles and is now called A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories. A Sound of Thunder has since become the most reprinted science fiction story of all time {I know, Bradbury isn't, strictly speaking, a science fiction writer. Most of his stories are more fantasy, but he is billed as sci-fi, so I'm going with it}. I've tried to keep my reviews fairly spoiler-free, but this story is popular enough that I think that most everyone is familiar with it, so I'm including a summary this time. In this story, a group of time travelers go on a safari back to the time of the dinosaurs to kill the ultimate game. The time travel agency has taken every precaution to insure that nothing it disturbed by the time travelers. They've erected a path that hovers above the ground to keep from disturbing the environment. They carefully choose which animals they will hunt, arriving just moments before they animal is about to die of natural causes. They leave no evidence of their presence, because who knows what the consequence will be if they make even a minor change to the way things were. However, in this trip something goes wrong. The hunter is frightened by the enormity of the dinosaur and in his haste to return to the time machine, he steps off the path and steps on a butterfly. When the group returns to the present, things are different from how they left them.

I had to wonder if the term butterfly effect comes from this story. The premise is that one tiny change in conditions in the present {or past, if it were possible} has a huge effect on the future. Mathematicians and scientists were exploring cause and effect in the 1890's. But it wasn't until somewhere around 1972 that the actual term came about, and it was used in conjunction with Edward Lorenz's experiments with computer weather models. So, somewhere in the middle lies Bradbury's most excellent A Sound of Thunder, which is, in my option, largely responsible for the term and concept.

A Sound of Thunder
They wiped the blood from their helmets. The monster lay a hill of solid flesh. Within it, you could hear the sighs and murmurs as the furthest chambers died, the organs malfuctioning, liquids running a final instant from pocket to sack to spleen, everything shutting off, closing up. Forever.

My Rating: :faint: :faint: :faint: :faint: :faint:
The curious thing about life is its endless possibilities. What you do in this moment, in a very real way, determines what you will be doing in a week, a year, a decade. It also influences the people around you. I often think about moments in my life were things may have taken a different direction if I had done things differently and wonder what it would be like if I had chosen a different path. If I were to hop in a time machine and tell my former self to do things differently, would I return to something better, or would I come back to find things much worse than I left them?

Air Date: May 21, 1984

Paul Frees

Max Robinson
Bryce Chamberlain
Jay Bernard
Jeff Raider
Duane Hyatt
Jennifer Olafsen

Roger Hoffman
Greg Hansen

Production Assistant:
Patrick Mead

Associate Producer:
Jeff Raider

Created, Produced, Directed:
Mike McDonough

Executive Producer:
Dean Van Uitert

Audio Clip of A Sound of Thunder
Buy A Sound of Thunder mp3
Buy Bradbury 13 Audio CDs


Shay said...

I've often pondered the (seemingly )small decisions I've made in my life and the profound effects some of those decisions have had. Scary stuff!

Just JaiCi's Crafts said...

I'm totally a "What if-er"!!!
Wonder what would be different....

Jill said...

I have always enjoyed this one, too. So much that I tried once to let my High School Science teacher let us listen to it. I can't remember if he let us or not. I know there was supposed to be a movie based on this story. Anyone see it? was it any good?