The Long Rain
|"The Long Rain"|
|Country||United States of America|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||Planet Stories|
"The Long Rain" is a short story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury. This story was originally published in 1950 as "Death-by-Rain" in the magazine Planet Stories, and then in the collection The Illustrated Man. The story tells of four men who have crashed on a planet where it is always raining. As they try to reach the safety of the Sun Domes, they end up being driven insane by the endless rains.
The story was republished in several collections and was incorporated into a film also titled The Illustrated Man.
The story is set on Venus in a jungle, where a group of four men whose rocket has crashed are attempting to reach the safety of a Sun Dome. Bradbury portrays Venus as having nearly eternal rains. The men are led by a character who is only identified as "the Lieutenant". One of the men is killed by a lightning strike when he tries to run when "he shouldn't have jumped up". The three remaining men make their way to a Sun Dome, but find that it has been destroyed and offers no shelter from the rain. One of the men becomes despondent and stops responding, instead staring up into the rain. He is shot by Simmons who defends his actions as a mercy killing, preventing the man from slowly drowning as his lungs fill up with rain. As Simmons and the Lieutenant continue on to where they think the next Sun Dome should be, Simmons believes that he is also going to go insane before they reach safety, and so commits suicide. The Lieutenant continues on, and finally reaches the Sun Dome where he is warm and safe, with dry clothing and hot chocolate; although Bradbury hints that the refuge may just be a hallucination.
The story was originally published in 1950 as "Death-by-Rain" in the magazine Planet Stories. It was one of the first group of stories selected to be part of the collection The Illustrated Man. It was later re-published in 1962 in R is for Robot, again in 1980 in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, and in the 1990 omnibus The Golden Apples of the Sun. It was also included in Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales (2005).
Rob Fletcher uses the opening paragraph, in which Bradbury describes the rain of Venus with phrases like: "It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping in the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains." to illustrate the fact that Bradbury turns the rain into an "ominous force" that "threatens [the character's] very survival."
"The Long Rain", as a story, is a "typical Bradbury space yarn." His presentation of Venus as being rain-soaked has been proven wrong by more modern science, but was in line with the scientific views of the time. The story was one in a large number of stories by many science fiction writers of the time that presented an "orthodoxy" that although it would be much more difficult than Mars, humans would fight to colonize Venus. While his description of Venus is not scientifically accurate, "Bradbury's power of description makes it real enough."
In 1969, Jack Smight directed a film adaptation of The Illustrated Man in which "The Long Rain" was one of three Bradbury stories placed within the framing story. The film, starring Rod Steiger who was an acquaintance of Bradbury, was "both a critical and financial failure."
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