Thursday, August 7, 2008

"A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury

Source: Freaky Trigger (mp3)
Length: 1 hr
Reader: Elisha Sessions

The story: Time Safari, Incorporated offers trips back in time, allowing those who can afford it the chance to shoot prehistoric animals. Eccles joins a group on an expedition to bag "the biggest game of all time," a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The safari leader, Travis, gives Eccles and the others two orders: 1) don't kill anything you're not told to shoot and 2) don't go off the path.

This story is a classic of the time travel subgenre of science fiction. Ever since Bradbury wrote this in 1952, there have been enough variations of this story's theme that it has passed into the Big Book of Science Fiction Tropes. Yet, Bradbury writes with such lyricism that the story is still entertaining. His foreshadowing makes the ending apparent from the beginning, but the last few lines are still a surprise. More than anything, the appearance of the Tyrannosaurus is so heart-stopping and menacing that it's worth the listen even you have no interest in the rest of the story.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Mr. Sessions reads this story with great skill. His voice for Eccles reflects the character's smug self-interest. When describing the Tyrannosaurus, his voice drops to a whisper that set my heart racing. A few sound effects provide background atmosphere, but without being Mickey Mouse illustrative foley effects. This recording is part of a podcast in which a panel discusses Bradbury's work, including this story. The story is presented first and by itself lasts about 30 minutes.

(photo by verifex via flickr. Creative Commons noncommercial attribution.)

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