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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 entirely in space. There is the pilot of a spacecraft who either leaves his ship because it's disabled (out of fuel or something), or he becomes separated from the ship while investigating something. He encounters this cloud or nebula type entity.

It's possible that the transmissions somehow appear to the pilot and crew, and they go seeking them out to find out what it is. It's possible that they do not see the transmissions ahead of time and the pilot simply discovers the entity.

When he discovers the entity, he hears voices and music and wonders what is trying to be communicated. Eventually, he realizes that sound is not communication, but just TV programs and radio programs from earth that are "trapped" 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.

One more added idea is that it could have been a radio drama or a novelization of a TV show like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. When I was young, I had a book-on-tape machine that I played all of my books on because I had dyslexia and was able to get that machine from our local library. It's possible that some of the tapes on offer were not from books 🤷‍♂️, though I can't say exactly. I just wanted to open this up for anyone who remembers a radio or TV show with this plot in it.

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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

2 Answers 2

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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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    Interesting. It sounds like a fascinating story, but that's not it. In the story I'm remembering, the cloud is out in space somewhere and the pilot of the spacecraft who discovers it is alone in the cloud and I believe he dies in it.
    – vol.2
    Dec 11, 2023 at 19:50
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Another partial match is Frederic Brown's "The Waveries" as per this answer to Science fiction story where all television and radio waves disappear

"Why not, sir? They are creatures of ether, not of matter. Ether permeates space uniformly. They were, until they were attracted here, at a point in space not greater than twenty-three light-years away. Our first indication of their arrival—rather, the arrival of the first ones, if you want to put it that way—came with a repetition of Marconi’s S-S-S transatlantic broadcast of forty-six years ago. Apparently that was the first Earth broadcast of sufficient power to send signals which they could perceive at that distance. They started for Earth then, presumably. It took twenty-three years for those waves to reach them and twenty-three years for them to reach us. The first to arrive had formed themselves, imitatively, to duplicate the shape, as it were, of the signals that attracted them. Later arrivals were in the form of other waves that they had met, or passed, or absorbed, on their way to Earth. There are now fragments of programs which were broadcast as recently as a few days ago... uh... wandering about the ether. Undoubtedly also there are fragments of the very last programs to be broadcast, but they have not yet been identified."

While they do detect the interference as coming from space, it's people on Earth who notice it (with the first discovery in story being from a drunk advertiser who is listening in on the competition, and recognizes the morse code that's interrupting the broadcast), and there's no dead body mentioned.

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  • Sounds great, but no not it. Thanks!
    – vol.2
    Dec 11, 2023 at 20:26

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