A Sound of Thunder: Short Story Review

The short story has always been one of my favorite forms of literature. Initially as a student and a reader, and later as an English teacher, there is much about the short story form that is appealing. It is a difficult literary form to master, as economy of words becomes paramount. To create dramatic structure and layered, meaningful characters and dialogue in such a short timeframe you must be talented and experienced. In my experience, several authors have been able to master this form, such as Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury.

There is one Ray Bradbury story in particular that always captures me, and I typically share it with my English classes as well. The story is titled “A Sound of Thunder.” If you haven’t read it, perhaps I can convince you to take a few minutes, sit down, and enjoy this classic sci-fi short story. I feel it has much to offer us, on several levels.

The story, written in 1952, takes place in a future where time travel has been invented and is being used for commercial travel. The story centers around a wealthy hunter who contracts a time-travel safari company to take him back to pre-historic times so that he may hunt the ultimate prize: The dinosaur. As he discovers, time travel also has its setbacks, as “The butterfly Effect” is a concept explained to him. If someone changes the past, they ultimately change the future. The story examines the repercussions of engaging in time travel as well as an activity like hunting in the past.

As you may naturally assume, the story is a cautionary tale. What makes the story unique, exciting, engaging and memorable is the subject matter with which it deals, as well as the moral dilemma the characters face. The title comes from the sound the dinosaurs make, but on a different level, it is also used in another way in this story. A tale about time travel and dinosaurs alone would be engaging, but add in the warning about meddling with time and the repercussions of such activities, and now you have something timeless.

In its 67 year old life, this story has been re-made and re-imagined several times. It has been made into full length featured movies, and it has been adapted into made- for-TV movies and short films. It is safe to say that Ray Bradbury’s words and images have fascinated us, and in a world that is arguably closer to the future worlds of his stories, we are still amazed and captivated by his writing today.

“A Sound of Thunder” is an engaging and exciting short story, and beyond the fascinating world Bradbury creates for us, it will leave you asking questions. Not only are these hypothetical questions, but real questions that relate to out modern life today. The main question it makes us ask is, “Do my smallest actions negative actions today potentially adversely affect tomorrow?”

It’s a question worth asking. The story is better for urging us to ask those questions, and look inward.

4 comments

  1. I am comparing a sound of thunder and All summer in a day both by ray bradbury. The books all summer in a day and A Sound of Thunder are written by ray Bradbury. All Summer in a day is about people who live on venus, and that the sun only comes up every 7 years. A sound of Thunder is about time travelers traveling to different times. Here are some comparisons of both of the stories.

    The first comparison is that there are lots of quotes in the stories. I like when the stories have lots of quotes because you can read the character’s thoughts, and what they are thinking. Another comparison is how ray Bradbury describes things in his short stories. In all summer in a day, he describes the sun as flaming, large, and bronze. And that the sky around it was a blazing blue tile color.

    Ray Bradbury uses very descriptively, and detailed descriptions on describing things. For example, in A Sound of Thunder, he writes, “Out of chars and ashes, out of dust and coals, like golden salamanders, the old years, the green years, might leap; roses sweeten the air, white hair turn Irish­black, wrinkles vanish; all, everything fly back to seed, flee death, rush down to their beginnings, suns rise in western skies and set in glorious easts, moons eat themselves opposite to the custom, all and everything cupping one in another like Chinese boxes, rabbits into hats, all and everything returning to the fresh death, the seed death, the green death, to the time before the beginning. A touch of a hand might do it, the merest touch of a hand.¨ And in all summer in a day he writes, “with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again.”

    The books all summer in a day and a sound of thunder are written by ray Bradbury. Both of the stories have lots of quotes in them. He also describes things very well in his short stories and is very good at adding detail.

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  2. Hi. I think that Eckless change the future not when he runs from the T rex but when was forced to go back to retrieve the bullets. In that moment the interaction with the past was deeper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting observation. In a sense, his interaction became more severe and obtrusive, intensifying the magnified response in the future. Great point!

      Like

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