Short Story #8: “A Sound of Thunder” — Ray Bradbury (1952)
I have two very clear memories of my father introducing me to science fiction. When I was 7 and my brother was 5, he took us to see “2001: A Space Odyssey.” On the big screen. It was the cinematic equivalent of giving a child acid, and I will always be grateful. Before we went into the theater, I remember him crouching down in front of us and saying something like, ‘boys, you’re not going to understand what you’re about to see, but it’s important that you see it.’
The next summer, while we were at the beach during one particularly rainy family vacation, we stumbled across “Star Trek” on TV. It had just gone into syndication, and he was excited that we would get to experience it. The first episode we saw was “The Trouble with Tribbles,” which of course meant we were permanently hooked. For the next couple of years, he and I would watch Star Trek together most afternoons when I got home from elementary school. Again, I am eternally grateful.
I know he also pointed me in the direction of “A Sound of Thunder,” though the details are now fuzzy. I just remember laying on the couch at my grandmother’s house, gobsmacked, as I finished reading Bradbury’s most famous short story. It is not his best, far from it in fact, but its O. Henry ending — and that it helped coin the term “butterfly effect” – ensures you probably know it even if you haven’t read it.
Hunters + Time Travel + Dinosaurs. What could possibly go wrong?
Image courtesy of io9 and its “Can you outrun a T-Rex?” (The answer is no.)