Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
[50/50] Short Story #5: “Frost and Fire” — Ray Bradbury (1946)
Ray Bradbury wrote a great many important, poetic and influential stories. But none have bowled me (and many others) over as much as one of his early short pulp pieces, “Frost and Fire,” a horrific and wildly imaginative allegory for the human condition. Set on a hyper-accelerated world where humans live their entire lives in eight days — from birth to old age in just over a week — “Frost and Fire” is a maddening rollercoaster ride of emotions as the protagonist rails against the unfairness of their existence, and bets his life on a discovery that could rescue mankind from their cruel fate. In an ultimate race against time, the elements, and the superstitions of his own people, he and his mate set out for a shining beacon on a distant mountain peak.
While Bradbury had a number of his works turned into movies and TV shows — though strangely enough without the same success as his contemporary, Phillip K. Dick — “Frost and Fire” is something of a Holy Grail among Bradbury fans. Saul Bass made a short, odd film based on the story in the early ’80s (see below), and it has been adapted for radio, comic book and, um, dance. It’s tight plot and pressing action are tailor made for a high-concept movie — and modern CGI could finally handle the constant aging the characters go through as they run for their lives. Whether a film ever gets made or not, the story (collected in Bradbury’s “R is for Rocket“) is well worth hunting down. You know, before time runs out.
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
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?
Find out here: http://www.lasalle.edu/~didio/courses/hon462/hon462_assets/sound_of_thunder.htm
Image courtesy of io9 and its “Can you outrun a T-Rex?” (The answer is no.)