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The following essay is my opinion in comparison of two stories that are classified as Science Fiction. A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury and Nethergrave by Gloria Skurzynski are two stories that use technology and science to express events that surround a specific character. A Sound of Thunder, is a science fiction story about Eckels, a man who desires to go on a hunting expedition back in the age of dinosaurs. For this to be accomplished his journey includes time travel by way of a time machine. The main message relayed in this story is that even the littlest of changes back in time can make a huge difference in humanity’s future. In Nethergrave, the reader is deeply taken into the personal mind and life of Jeremy, a lonely young man who enters the reality of the virtual world. His adventure brings focus to how one’s judgment regarding trust can be taken too far. Both stories end with the characters being taken away due to their choices and desires. Eckles is killed back in time and Jeremy is lost forever in the virtual world.
Nethergrave gives the reader a closer connection to the characters involved and in a more believable setting. Being side-by-side within Jeremy’s mind and personal life made it much easier for me to be a part of the story as a reader. The connection he had with his online friends and the details of his choices made it personal. Though both stories have their flaws regarding reality, Nethergrave, was more believable than A Sound of Thunder and its time machine in my opinion and therefore a better representation of Science Fiction. I will compare both stories and how in my opinion, they support the Science Fiction themes of, Time Travel, Faster Than Light Travel, and Parallel Universe with an emphasis on why I believe Nethergrave is over all, the better Science Fiction story.
Considering the Science Fiction theme of Time Travel, there is no doubt that, A Sound of Thunder, rates higher in representation of this Science Fiction theme over Nethergrave, since the story involves a Time Machine. Even the definition of Time Travel is typically associated with the use of a time machine. However the concept of time travel by way of a time machine is very outdated in comparison to other science fiction themes in my opinion and is more in line with far fetched fantasy.
A Parallel Universe also known as an alternate reality, is an existence that co-exists with one’s own. Nethergrave perfectly exemplifies this theme. For example when Jeremy is in communication with the unknown voice from within his computer. At 1st he rationalizes the voice as a feature his father must have added to the computer before it was given to him. He soon finds out the voice and all connected to it is from another realm or dimension occurring alongside his own existence. Now this is an example of true Science Fiction with a huge twist of intrigue. The idea alone is thrilling compared to an outdated time Machine even though the themes of Time Travel and Parallel Universe do cross lines.
Faster Than Light Travel, is another hypothetical propagation and Pseudoscience belief that is considered scientific, but has no scientific fact. All three of these Scientific Themes are related to each other. For example, faster than light travel would be necessary for time travel to occur which would include arriving at a parallel universe. Taking Into consideration that Science Fiction is truly only theory makes it hard to declare which story is more representative of Science Fiction based on comparing each story and how it may better support these 3 scientific themes as they all overlap and intertwine with one another.
My conclusion of why Nethergrave is a better representation of Science Fiction has nothing to do with the 3 scientific themes I have compared but rather the writer’s ability to bring me into the story in a believable way. Both stories are well written, but the writer of A Sound of Thunder places me in an unbelievable scenario of fantasy from its beginning partly due to the outdated and harder to conceive of idea of the Time Machine. The writer of Nethergrave managed to pull me into the story naturally which for me changed the entire experience. I was no longer reading a theoretical Science Fiction story but found myself in the moment, a part of it. If a writer of Science Fiction can achieve this feeling within the reader, in my opinion, that story is by default a better representation of Science Fiction regardless of specific Science Fiction themes compared to another story that has not achieved this same experience.
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