Science fiction is a speculative fiction genre that usually deals with imaginative and futuristic literature of time travel, science and technology, parallel universes, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. The story by Ray Bradbury, “A Sound of Thunder,” and Gloria Skurzynski’s story, “Nethergrave,” fit well in the genre of science fiction. Both authors have used different events in the plot of their stories, time travel, and the application of technology to enable the reader to classify this genre easily. In addition, both have used literary elements like characterization to pass their message. Furthermore, Bradbury and Skurzynski use themes to convey their message to their audience. The science of fiction fits into both narratives because of the use of technology, settings, and events in them. “A Sound of Thunder” is more effective than “Nethergrave” because it has better characterization in describing the characters, as well as a more relatable theme, has more description, and helps the readers get familiar with the setting.
“A Sound of Thunder” by Bradbury and “Nethergrave” by Skurzynski is good, well-written science fiction stories. The main characters in both narratives, with the help of very advanced technology, manage to traverse the hand of time and live in a different world. Eckels, with a couple of his friends in “A Sound of Thunder,” employs a time traveler machine to travel to Jurassic periods to hunt Dinosaurs. He successfully manages to live in that moments and experience real-time events. Similarly, Jeremy, the main character in “Nethergrave,” with the help of a high-tech computer, goes into the other world as an avatar. He can experience events just as a living jaguar does; for instance, Jeremy looks through its eyes. Jeremy was absent when his mom entered the room, yet the Jaguar was on Jeremy’s computer screen. Jeremy manages to travel into the ‘other world,’ especially when the online quartet chats with his friends except for Princedie; the others lie about who they are in real life. The two stories envision that in the days to come, humankind will be able to create a high-tech program. The technological developments will take him into the fictional world and impact the happenings of timely events that will influence their future lives. The story “A Sound of Thunder” is about Eckel, who makes a small action that makes history change. On the other hand, in “Nethergrave,” Jeremy makes a life-changing decision after spending a lonely and disappointing day. The setting affects technology’s impacts on individuals’ lives since this is a time in the future in which the machine is invented. The innovation makes Eckel change history, linked to how technology changes lives. Nethergrave occurs in Jeremy’s school and house in the present day. This fiction story is incredibly realistic since it includes technology used nowadays. “With Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the father of Jeremy has been in the right place at the correct time when the revolution of computers took off” (Skurzynski 316). Bradbury explains his message very well by demonstrating pragmatic changing events. Eckel’s deed in the time travel machine causes changes in history. “It couldn’t change things. Killing one butterfly couldn’t be that important! Could it?” (Bradbury 11).
In his short story “A Sound of Thunder,” Bradbury reveals Eckel’s real personality through indirect characterization. For instance, his effects on his friends show that Eckel is selfish. When the tyrannosaurus-rex approaches, he blows the objective by running away like a coward and ditching the colleagues, “This fool nearly killed us.” (Bradbury 9). It reveals that he is ready to risk the lives of others to save himself. Additionally, Eckel’s actions show ignorance where at a certain point in the story, he directs his rifle sarcastically at an animal immediately after being warned not to kill anything not marked by red paint. His conduct reveals that he does not care to follow the rules seriously but acts carelessly. In the same story, Travis is the safari leader, and he takes time to travel seriously, cautioning Eckel and other hunters on the risks of disobeying the regulations. He is harsh, to the extent of threatening to leave Eckel behind. Travis lectures Eckel and his friends concerning the implications of altering the past, serving as the primary vehicle through which Bradbury conveys the responsiveness of nature. In Nethergrave, Jeremy is humble and not vengeful because it is evident that other schoolmates tease and mock him, but he does not avenge them. Furthermore, Jeremy looks isolated, mainly when his online friends leave him shortly after entering the conversation. Lastly, he struggles with his self-worth and self-confidence by remaining in the real world rather than slipping into virtual reality. The comparison between the characters is that in “A Sound of Thunder,” Eckels experiences harsh repercussions due to a die fear-driven mistake that he makes by using a technological development to go back in time. In “Nethergrave,” Jeremy opts for a virtual world over the real world, where he feels abandoned, awkward and embarrassed. However, both characters’ temperament is rather similar in some ways, both being somewhat craven without being hardly virile.
In my opinion, the theme of technology is more important because the authors warn man against the emerging technologies which are becoming dominant, preventing physical activities and facilitating crime. Both narratives demonstrate how technology can be hazardous since technological advancements are made daily. Even though the stories are science fiction, the dangers of technology from the works might be possible in the future. In addition, technology can create several potential unforeseen problems worldwide. Bradbury believes that technology develops and will have many negative impacts on the entire world and society than positive effects. Therefore, humans must control the technology they have developed or that they intend to advance in the future. They should handle it with care and not assume that it exists for them to indulge in frivolous pastimes. Technology may give everyone better control over themselves, one another, and the world around them. Similarly, it can make humans think of themselves as gods, changing the past, present, and future. Another theme in “A Sound of Thunder” by Bradbury is that a single bad activity may lead to massive destruction.
Additionally, in “Nethergrave,” one of the messages is that when reality is challenging, it becomes easy to make poor resolutions that seem to make it better, which can affect oneself and others.
“A Sound of Thunder” by Bradbury is better because it is pure science fiction, where things only happen in future settings and Jurassic times. Similarly, in “Nethergrave,” things occur in the real world, which translates into a fictional world. For instance, the last line in Bradbury’s story, “There was a sound of thunder,” has made me sit dazed for a moment, questioning if it kills Eckels. Overall, I think it has more exciting action and is my favorite of the two. The two stories describe their characters well and show the pros and cons of advancements in technology. Finally, the narratives apply great sensory details to thoroughly explain the stories and make the reader feel like they are in the narrative.
Bradbury, Ray. “A Sound of Thunder,” in R is for Rocket. (New York: Doubleday, 1952), pp. 1-12, Web.
Skurzynski, Gloria. “Nethergrave”. pp 1-11, Web.