Continuing my recent sojourn back into the world of classic scifi, I just reread Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” and found it to be as chilling and remarkable as I first did some thirty years ago. Although Bradbury’s foreshadowing about the results of a recent election is a bit ham-handed, his handling of the story’s denouement is perfect; creepy without being over-the-top (despite the expected election “twist”). What really makes it is the way Bradbury slowly reveals the details of what has happened (and, yes, there’s a spoiler coming, so avert your eyes if you’ve somehow never read this story):
Eckels stood smelling of the air, and there was a thing to the air, a chemical taint so subtle, so slight, that only a faint cry of his subliminal senses warned him it was there. The colors, white, gray, blue, orange, in the wall, in the furniture, in the sky beyond the window, were… were… And there was a feel.
Of course, if you’ve read the story, you know what happens next. If you haven’t, stop everything and read it right now. And, no, the 2005 movie version doesn’t count. Though I haven’t seen it, the reviews I’ve read are enough to convince me that I haven’t missed a whole lot. Maybe next time, someone will step off the path and the insect he stomps on will lead to a future in which the movie version of “A Sound of Thunder” is true to the story.