Please write a three page essay containing the following elements.
1. A very short (one-paragraph) précis of each story. As in the Case assignment, this should not be a recap, but rather a summary of the story's main points.
2. To what extent does technology motivate each story? Without the SF mainstay of futuristic machines and gadgets, would the stories work at all? Why or why not?
3. In which story is the technical element more believable; or, to put it another way, less unbelievable?
4. Technology can be fascinating, but without people, there's no story. Which story presents the human element best? What is it, that makes the presentation of the human element in that story particularly effective?
5. In conclusion, which story did you find to be the most entertaining? The most memorable? Why?
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[Enotes educators do not compose essays. However, we are glad to assist you with suggestions and ideas]
- "Sound of Thunder":
A man named Eckels enters Time Safari, Inc. and signs up to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex. His guide, Mr. Travis, warns Eckels that he must always remain on the anti-gravity path and not disturb anything or there can be massive changes made in the world as doing so could prevent future offspring of something, and/or introduce futuristic bacteria into the environment; also Eckels will have to pay a huge fine. After they travel back 60,002,055 years in the time machine, Eckels and Travis arrive; however, when Eckels sees how monstrous his prey is, he panics and runs, and Travis and the other guides are forced to shoot the tyrannosaurus charges them. Fortunately, it dies, and the tree which had fallen on it eons ago now falls, so nothing has been changed after the bullets are retrieved. Still, the men are angry that Eckels has endangered their lives; then, they notice he has left the path. When the men return to 2055, everything appears almost the same, except a sign seems misspelled and another man is now the president of the country. To his dismay, Eckels finds that on the bottom of his shoe where he slid off the path, there is a small dead butterfly.
- "The Last Question":
"The last question" is first asked on May 21, 2061 by a half-drunken technician of Multivac, a huge computer. This question is about the end of energy, but, there is insufficient data for an answer. Fortunately for the earth, Multivac has learned how to harness the energy of the sun. Nonetheless, after billions of years, this energy is lost and the stars begin to die. Man is forced to seek other galaxies in which to live and the question of entropy, the unavailability of thermal energy for conversion, is asked repeatedly without sufficient data for a response. At last, a Universal AC can work without man. One man named Zee Prime realizes that when all energy is gone, man must die. "But it will take billions of years" he comforts himself, just as others before him have said. He asks the Universal AC when this end will come, but there is insufficient data. Billions of years pass and Universal AC, which can replicate itself, finally correlates all data and learns how to reverse entropy, but there is no man to tell. "It must be done" Universal AC decides. "Let there be light."
2. Technology is essential to both stories. In Bradbury's story, the theme of the delicate balance of nature could not exist without Eckel's having gone back in time. In Asimov's story, men must continually ask the computers when they will lose energy, and then it is the technology that re-creates the dead universe.
3. This is a personal opinion question, but with all the advancements in technology, Asimov's computers seem more plausible.
4. Bradbury's story has realistic characters, dialogue and interaction that create reader involvement in the narrative. It is hard for the reader to relate to the other story that is strictly science fiction.
5. This is again an opinion question, but "A Sound of Thunder" is more traditional in its narrative with life-like characters, interaction and conflict among the characters, and an adventurous plot.
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