This story is probably one of the most known stories by Ray Bradbury. A Sound of Thunder was written in 1952 and published in a weekly magazine. It was then published in Ray Bradbury's book called The Golden Apples of the Sun, which was later reprinted and retitled, The Sound of Thunder and Other Stories. It is also printed in The Stories of Ray Bradbury. This story has been reprinted more than any other science fiction story, ever. There was even a movie based on this story (although I don't recommend it highly, they just didn't get it right). It was high on my list of favorites. I remember I once took the NPR radio version of The Sound of Thunder to school. I wanted my science teacher to play it for our class. I can't remember for sure, but I think my teacher decided against playing the story. Bummer. That would have been a great day in science.
We are in the year 2055. "Time Safari, Inc." is now offering a safari to any year in the past. You pick what you want to shoot, they'll make it happen. It's the ultimate hunting trip. Bag the biggest game you can imagine, and you can even have photographic evidence. The price is a mere $10,000.
Eckels is about to go on safari 60 million years in the past to shoot a Tyrannosaurus rex. The Thunder Lizard. He seems a bit nervous, but determined not to back out.
Mr. Travis, the Safari Guide in the Past gives the small group their instructions. They are to wait for his signal to shoot. There is a path laid out around the area that they are going to hunt. It is made of anti-gravity metal and floats six inches above the earth so the hunters will not touch the ancient earth. The strictest instructions are to stay on the path.
While it may just be speculation, they have decided that they must not meddle with the past. They are only shooting an animal that was about to die anyway. Any small creature that is killed, but was supposed to live, will not have its future off-spring. The animals that would have eaten those off-spring now will starve. And it goes on until suddenly Queen Elizabeth isn't born and America does not exist as they know it. All guessing, but nevertheless, they cannot be too careful. They must stay on the path.
But what about the pressure of shooting the greatest beast ever to roam the earth? When he actually appears, what will happen? Will they make it out alive? Before they left, Eckles asked, "Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?" His answer is simply, "We guarantee nothing, except the dinosaurs."
A Sound of Thunder is an amazing adventure with a fantastic twist of events. This is Bradbury at his best. The imagery is so solid. And you just want to keep reading. Don't forget to check out the NPR version at twilightzoneradio.com. The 3D sound (can sound be 3D? I don't know how else to describe it!) is incredible. They bring the dinosaur right into your home/car/ear buds.