“August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury is now my new favorite dystopian, future-foretelling short story. My previous favorite was “The Veldt” which is also by Bradbury, and which he also happens to mention in this piece! I will leave a link to it below.
Bradbury shifts us forward in time and displays the wasted, electric junkyard that is the remains of what once was humanity before an apparent nuclear explosion, as we read that only one house remained intact in the “ruined” city that “gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles”, (Bradbury 1). There was not a trace of human life left in this city of “Allendale, California”, and presumably not a single life left beyond the house that “stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes”, (Bradbury 1). Bradbury helps us visualize this eerie, mechanical ghost town as the permanent daily routines of the house persisted and catered to no one. We also see some very accurate predictions from Bradbury of a dishwasher when he describes the uneaten toast and eggs being scraped into the sink, “where hot water whirled them down a metal throat which digested and flushed them away to the distant sea. The dirty dishes were dropped into a hot washer and emerged twinkling dry”, (Bradbury 1).
This abandoned, resilient home that stood in the wake of the end of mankind was still alive, with each segment of ones day blaring from automated voices in the ceilings, reminding no one that it was “eight-one, run, run, …off to school, off to work!”, (Bradbury 1). Allendale, California and perhaps the entire world is predicted as a society run strictly on machines that utterly replace human action. As we inevitably grow and innovate technologically, our advances will ultimately serve to comfort and assist any human action possible, much like the tiny robot mice that diligently went after any dirt or mud in the home on cue. The absence of humans in this story becomes even more evident on Bradbury 3 when it hit nine o’clock and as “the beds warmed their hidden circuits” in preparation for the cool night ahead, the automated ceiling voice summoned a Mrs. McClellan in regards to the poem of the evening. With no response or command, the voice chooses a poem by Sara Teasdale. The poem’s title and overall visceral point correlates perfectly with Bradbury’s piece in saying that these machines we perpetually create and improve will outlive us with no life to tend to, but it is nature that will continuously flourish beyond the ending of the civilization we know. As this singular standing house begins to “die” from Bradbury 3-4, we see nature reclaim the last manmade machine when “a falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window”, later igniting a inextinguishable fire that consumes and stifles every last automated voice. I vividly visualize the demise of this electric home when Bradbury describes the wall sprays that “let down showers of mechanical rain”, (Bradbury 3). The robot mice still going at the last bits of ash and dust before failing and joining the fire that had now swallowed the home whole until “all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked”, (Bradbury 4).
Ray Bradbury is not a new author for me so I need to say that this short story, as well as his many other dystopian pieces serve as warnings of the result of our endless technological progressions and its dwindling effect on our emotions and actions. These machines take the place of human involvement, which erase the purpose of any activity we once did physically. With machines to make every move for you, there is no space for humans to lift a finger in such a effortless, mechanical world. Our precious technology that we will constantly evolve will outrun us all, and nature will eventually swallow up the remaining evidence of whats left.
I also thought i’d add that Bradbury connects this story to another piece written by him, (also in 1950), called “The Veldt” when he mentions the nurseries that displayed glowing realistic images that made the walls come alive at “four-thirty” on Bradbury 2. These nurseries served as entertainment for children to visualize their inner thoughts, hence Bradbury calling it “the children’s hour” on Bradbury 3.
Link to “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury if you’re interested: