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I remember reading this in maybe the late 1980s, and I have a strong inclination that it was Bradbury. I remember checking out a Bradbury collection and reading a bunch of those stories around that time. I'm sure I read "A Sound of Thunder," though I looked at the stories in Golden Apples of the Sun and I don't see anything there. I also looked at all the stories in The Illustrated Man, and don't see anything that looks right either.

I suppose the closest thing is "Kaleidoscope", but I don't see anything in that story about radio waves and TV broadcasts being trapped in a cloud.

I'm starting to think it's not Bradbury, and I had also picked up some random Sci-Fi anthology around the same time.

Added stuff I can think of (but not confirm):

It takes place in space. I think there is an astronaut of some description that encounters this cloud or possibly nebula. I think I remember that the transmissions somehow appear to the astronaut or astronauts and they go seeking them out to find out what it is. When they find it, they expect to find someone, like another human, but instead find that the cloud has "trapped" TV programs and radio programs inside it, and they are playing over and over like distant echoes, or possibly it's just receiving the signals very late after they were transmitted. I also have a weird memory that maybe they also found a dead guy in the cloud, but I'm not sure about that. I'm not 100% sure that I'm not conflating some stories here, but I am 100% sure about the "TV and radio transmissions trapped in the cloud," which is why I led with that. That's what I'm trying to figure out.

Ring any bells out there?

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  • It might help if you could tell us anything you remember about the story besides "cloud traps radio waves". Is it set in the past, present, near future, far future? Is space travel or aliens involved? Are there human characters in the story? What do they do? What happens to them? How does it all end? Does the cloud go away? Does life get better or worse b ecause there is no more radio or TV? Is the tone humorous, eerie?
    – user14111
    May 13, 2021 at 2:58
  • If you think of anything to add to your deswcripotion of the story, you can edit your question by clicking on the "edit" button below the tags at the bottom of your question.
    – user14111
    May 13, 2021 at 3:00
  • As you notied, "Kaleidoscope" doesn't contain anything about radio waves being trapped in a cloud. In what way is "Kaleidoscope" close to the story you're trying to find?
    – user14111
    May 13, 2021 at 3:03
  • Okay, I edited it. I gave, I think, everything I can remember that might be part of it, though I can't guarantee that the added info is accurate. It's the best I can do.
    – vol.2
    May 13, 2021 at 3:10
  • Kaleidoscope has that part with the one guy who gets carried off to die in the cloud or whatever. It's the "cloud" that I mentioned it because of. But no, there's no radio waves or TV signals.
    – vol.2
    May 13, 2021 at 3:12

1 Answer 1

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Not sure, but try Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud. It's from much earlier (like maybe the 1960's), but, if I remember rightly, the Cloud is a periodic thing that stops between the Earth and the Sun, and almost destroys life on Earth.

Plot summary from Wikipedia:

In 1964, astrophysicists on Earth become aware of a cloud of gas and dust, initially thought to be a Bok globule, that is heading for the solar system. The cloud, if interposed between the Sun and the Earth, could wipe out most of the life on Earth by blocking solar radiation and ending photosynthesis. A cadre of astronomers and other scientists is drawn together in Nortonstowe, England, to study the cloud and report to the British government about the consequences of its presence.

The cloud unexpectedly decelerates as it approaches and comes to rest around the Sun, causing disastrous climatic changes on Earth and immense mortality and suffering for the human race. As the behaviour of the cloud proves to be impossible to predict scientifically, the team at Nortonstowe eventually come to the conclusion that it might be a life-form with a degree of intelligence. The scientists try to communicate with the cloud, and succeed. The cloud is revealed to be an alien gaseous superorganism, many times more intelligent than humans, which is surprised to find intelligent life-forms on a solid planet. It reconfigures itself to allow sunlight to return to the Earth and humanity is saved.

Though its ill-effects on humanity have ceased, several governments are mistrustful of the cloud and prepare a nuclear attack upon it. When the scientists alert the cloud of this plot, it turns the missiles back upon their senders but does not otherwise retaliate. When the astronomers ask the cloud how its lifeform originated, it replies that they have always existed. One of the characters suggests this is incompatible with the Big Bang theory.

The cloud announces that another nearby (by the cloud's standards) intelligent cloud has suddenly stopped communicating and may have vanished. This has apparently happened many times before and is a long-standing mystery to the clouds; the cloud therefore decides to leave the Solar System to investigate. During their last few days of communication two of the scientists try to learn some of the cloud's vast store of knowledge through visual signals, in order to gain further insights about the Universe. Both of them die in the attempt.

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  • Thanks for the attempt, but that's not it. 😊
    – vol.2
    May 21, 2021 at 14:56

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