I wanted to read The Golden Apples of the Sun for one reason and one reason only: it contains the story "A Sound of Thunder." I'm fairly certain that most people are familiar with this story, even if they don't know its name. It is often referenced when it comes to time travel. This is the story in which a man goes back in time, steps on a butterfly, and changes the future. Knowing what happened did not make this story any less outstanding. This was definitely the best in the book. Bradbury uses vivid descriptions to paint exact pictures of the characters and their actions in his stories. Here is the appearance of the object of the time travellers' desire:
"The jungle was wide and full of twitterings, rustlings, murmurs, and sighs.
Suddenly it all ceased, as if someone had shut a door.
A sound of thunder.
Out of the mist, one hundred yards away, came Tyrannosaurus rex...
It came on great oiled, resilient, striding legs. It towered thirty feet above half of the trees, a great evil god, folding its delicate watchmaker's claws close to its oily reptilian chest. Each lower leg was a piston, a thousand pounds of white bone, sunk in thick ropes of muscle, sheathed over in a gleam of pebbled skin like the mail of a terrible warrior. Each thigh was a ton of meat, ivory, and steel mesh. And from the great breathing cage of the upper body those two delicate arms dangled out front, arms with hands which might pick up and examine men like toys...Its mouth gaped, exposing a fence of teeth like daggers. Its eyes rolled, ostrich eggs, empty of all expression save hunger...its taloned feet clawing damp earth, leaving prints six inches deep wherever it settled its weight. It ran with a gliding ballet step, far too poised and balanced for its ten tons."
The reader feels as if they are there looking at this dinosaur themselves. There is a sense of the enormity and power of the animal and of the terror it inspires. The story also has one of those perfect last sentences that makes one think, wow, this is fantastic.
The other standout story from the collection was "The Fog Horn." It was the first story in the book. Bradbury captures the despair and isolation of a lonely creature drawn to the surface from the depths of the sea by a lighthouse fog horn. The rest of the stories ranged from good to okay. I liked the science fiction stories better than the others.