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Unformatted text preview: by Ray Bradbury
by A Sound of Thunder
Meet the Writer
Most noted for his short stories, Ray Bradbury has also written novels, children’s books, plays, screenplays, television scripts, and poetry. His vivid imagination, lively style, and social commentary have set him apart in the world of fantasy and sciencefiction writers.
Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1934. He became interested in books and writing early in life. Ray Bradbury Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of those rare individuals whose writing
has changed the way people think. His more than five
hundred published works -- short stories, novels, plays,
screenplays, television scripts, and verse -- exemplify the
American imagination at its most creative. Once read, his words are never forgotten. His best-known and most beloved
books, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451 and
Something Wicked This Way Comes, are masterworks that readers carry with
them over a lifetime. His timeless, constant appeal to audiences young and old
has proven him to be one of the truly classic authors of the 20th Century -- and
the 21st. In recognition of his stature in the world of literature and the impact he has had on
so many for so many years, Bradbury was awarded the National Book
Foundation's 2000 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and
the National Medal of Arts in 2004. Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury calls himself a teller of tales
and a magic realist. He also claims to
remember everything – every book he’s
ever read, every movie he’s seen, all the
events of his life back to and including his
birth, in Waukegan, Illinois, on August 22,
1920. All those memories and a big
imagination are the materials for the fiction
and poetry he’s been publishing for more
than fifty years. Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s work is full of childhood imaginings,
fantasies, and nightmares – portraits of Venus
and Mars, time travel, ageless children, neverand
ending rains – but Bradbury the grown-up is a
His fantasy stories are often warnings against
blind faith in science, but they’re optimistic. By
giving strange twists to everyday objects and
events, Bradbury challenges his readers to look
at them as if for the first time. As a writer he lets
readers see science through the excited years of
children, but he also informs, suggesting ways to
use technology more responsibly.
A genre is a category or type of literature, such as
fiction or poetry. Each genre can be subdivided
into more specific categories that can be identified
by subject matter, content, or style. Identifying the
genre of a selection helps a reader to establish
expectations for the work.
Readers can understand the genre of a literary
work by analyzing its characteristics. As you read
“A Sound of Thunder,” notice the clues that reveal
the common elements of science fiction. Elements of Science Fiction
Damon Knight, author, editor, critic, and founder of the
Science Fiction Writers of America, once attempted to
quantify the elements of science fiction.
He came up with the following list derived from a
number of previously published formal definitions of
science Damon Knight science
technology and invention
the future and the remote past, including all time travel
extrapolation (speculation based on signs or omens)
other places--planets, dimensions, etc., including visitors
from the above
catastrophes, natural or manmade
catastrophes, Knight concluded that a story with at least three of the
above elements is generally perceived to be science
fiction; stories with two elements were borderline;
stories with one or no elements were not science fiction.
stories Science Fiction
Although the term s cie nce fiction was not used
until about 1930, science fiction tales have been
told since before the invention of writing. One of
the earliest science fiction writers was Lucian of
Samosata who, around 100 BC, wrote a fantasy
about a journey to the moon. Modern science
fiction began to take shape in the nineteenth
century. Science Fiction
Science fiction is defined
loosely as fiction that
deals with the impact of
science and technology
on the world. Sometimes
the technology is real,
sometimes it is entirely
imagined, and sometimes
it has been imagined by
an author and then
brought to reality by
scientists. Science fiction A Sound of Thunder
by Ray Bradbury
“Who controls the past controls the future.” —George Orwell A Sound of Thunder
In the following short story, Ray Bradbury
implies that seemingly insignificant actions
can change the future for an entire
Before you read the story, think about the
• • How might your actions during your lifetime
affect someone living one hundred years in the
Do you believe that you have a responsibility to
future generations? A Sound of Thunder
Introducing the Story It’s the year 2055. Eckels, a wealthy hunter, wants to travel back in time to shoot a ferocious dinosaur. But he gets in over his head when he books passage with Time Safari, Inc.
• This story explores the possibility that even tiny changes to the environment of the past can drastically alter the future. Tyrannosaurus Rex
The Tyrannosaurus rex lived during the late Cretaceous Period, between 97
and 66 million years ago. Scientists estimate its length at about 40 to 50
feet, its height at about 15 to 20 feet, and its weight at about 5 to 7 tons.
The dinosaur’s open mouth revealed frighteningly sharp six-inch-long teeth
with serrated edges. A Sound of Thunder
Introducing the Story
Trex lived during the late Cretaceous Period. What other life forms were around then?
insects similar to today’s the first flowering plants marine invertebrates A Sound of Thunder
Literary Focus: Style
Ray Bradbury tells this sciencefiction story in a lush style.
• He uses vivid images and imaginative figurative language to create an exotic setting.
• The setting and the figurative language shape a tense and suspenseful mood, or atmosphere. A Sound of Thunder
Literary Focus: Style
As you read “A Sound of Thunder,” notice the elements of Bradbury’s style.
• Diction and sentence patterns: How do they create a distinctive writing style?
• Images: Which of your senses do they appeal to? What feelings do they evoke for you?
• Figurative language: How does it help create the setting? the mood? A Sound of Thunder
Reading Skills: Cause and Effect The plot of “A Sound of Thunder” is based on a theoretical causeandeffect chain that might look something like this:
human steps on butterfly in past. Butterfly population
declines. Humans evolve
civilization is altered. Entire ecosystem
is upset. A Sound of Thunder
This science fiction story begins in the year
2055, the day after an election in which Keith, a
democrat, wins out over Deutscher, a fascist.
Time travel is possible and Eckels, a wealthy
hunter, goes, goes on a prehistoric safari to
shoot a dinosaur.
As Eckels’s party travels back in time, Travis,
the leader, warns the hunters not to stray from a
prelaid anti-gravity Path, theorizing that the
minutest damage to the environment could have
serious reverberations for the future.
serious A Sound of Thunder
Even the tyrannosaur they are going to shoot is chosen
because it would have died minutes later anyway. When
the time comes to make the kill, Eckels panics and runs
away, stumbling off the Path. Travis is furious.
After the party returns to 2055, Eckels senses that things
are subtly different. He then discovers a dead butterfly
on the sole of his shoe. After
After finding out that now Deutscher has triumphed over
Keith, Eckels realizes the magnitude of his actions – he
has changed the course of his country’s history. The
story’s climax comes when Travis shoots Eckels.
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