A Sound of Thunder

Ray Bradbury died yesterday. He was 91. I knew of his death yesterday as well as everyone else did, through the announcements over the internet. I waited a day to let the dust settle a bit, to think about the man and his writing, and to avoid looking like another blog lemming piling on.

I started reading science fiction in elementary school. My dad was an avid reader and I started to read some of his books. In particular I remember reading Isaac Asimov's "Pebble In The Sky." I didn't fully understand the book, but I understood enough that it electrified me. From that point forward I was hooked. Later my dad paid for me to have a subscription to the Science Fiction Book Club. I remember it came with a free gift, a model of the X-15 by Revell. I built it and it eventually disappeared into the mists of time, but the books, especially an anthology and Asimov's "Foundation Trilogy" lasted many years. I still have the "Foundation Trilogy."

Buried in all that science fiction from the book club were stories from Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clark, especially Bradbury. I remember reading "A Sound of Thunder" for the first time in the short story collection "R is for Rocket." And then came "The Martian Chronicles," which I read over and over again until the pages started falling out of the cheap spine. I read other stories, in particular the small collection of selected stories from Serling's The Twilight Zone in book form, and later, Harlan Ellison's anthology Dangerous Visions. I read Heinlein (in particular "Farnham's Freehold" as well as "The Past Through Tomorrow."

Between Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" and "The Martian Chronicles" I came to appreciate how his science fiction was a window into our own society. In "A Sound of Thunder", the killing of a butterfly back in time in the upper Cretaceous have a profound effect on the character's present, swinging the results of a presidential election from a moderate candidate winning to a fascist candidate winning. The changes were all through society, moving society just enough to allow such a candidate to win the election. And the Martian Chronicles were based on American history, re-written to take place on Mars rather than North America, with all that that implied. Bradbury's stories (and a whole lot of other stories) worked on two levels; first, they were a lot of fun to read. And then, on the second reading, they made you think.

I'm going to miss Ray Bradbury. I have his stories and I have a lot of memories, but we're all a little poorer with his passing.


Playing with the Olympus E-PL1 and the 17mm. Still shooting with the E-PL1 in Adobe RGB. I find working with the files different. I'm still experimenting.

I was walking out in the parking lot in front of my office building and I happened to look down and see this little plant pushing its way through the asphalt. I got down on my hands and knees and moved around to get this view. It reminds me of how impermanent are the works of man, a lesson to be learned from history and underscored in many a science fiction tale.


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