There Will Come Soft Rains (short story)
"There Will Come Soft Rains" is a short story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury which was first published in the May 6, 1950 issue of Collier's. Later that same year the story was included in Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (1950).
Characters and story
The story begins by introducing the reader to a computer-controlled house that cooks, cleans and takes care of virtually every need that a well-to-do United States family could be assumed to have. The reader enters the text on the morning of April 28, 1985 (changed to August 4, 2026 in later printings) and follows the house through some of the daily tasks that it performs as it prepares its inhabitants for a day of work. At first, it is not apparent that anything is out of the ordinary, but eventually it becomes clear that the residents of the house are not present and that the house is empty. While no direct explanation of the nonexistence of the family is produced, the silhouettes of a man, a woman, two children, and their play ball are described as having been burnt into one side of the house, implying that they were all incinerated by the thermal flash of a nuclear weapon.
The house is described as standing amidst the ruins of a city; the leveled urban area is described briefly as emitting a "radioactive glow". The house is the only thing left standing and continues to perform its duties, unaware that the family is gone. At one point, further insight into the demise of the family is given when a tape recorder within the house recites a poem by Sara Teasdale titled "There Will Come Soft Rains". The poem describes how the Earth's other living things, and implicitly nature as a whole, are unaffected by an event of human extinction that has occurred as the result of an unnamed disaster.
In the course of the day described, a starving dog appears whining at the door of the house. Apparently the family pet, the animal is recognized and admitted, but dies soon after. This is the nearest the story has of any characters. The house's cleaning procedures deal with the body.
At 10:00 p.m., a gust of wind blows a tree branch through the kitchen window, spilling cleaning solvent on the stove and causing a fire to break out. The house warns the family to get out of the building and tries shutting doors to limit the spread of the flames. The house also attempts to fight the fire, but its water reservoirs have been depleted after numerous days of cooking and cleaning without replenishment. The building is ravaged by the blaze and is almost completely destroyed except for one surviving wall, the same wall with the shadows of the family burnt into it, which continues to give the time and date the following morning.
In the original Collier's story, the story's events take place in a deserted house in the city of Allendale, California, on April 28, 1985 (a year changed to 2026 in later printings). The title and motif of the story, as outlined above, comes from Sara Teasdale's 1920 poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains", which had a post-apocalyptic setting inspired by World War I. The imagery of the poem is echoed and expanded in the story.
The story portrays a scene of obliteration, in which the human race has been destroyed by a nuclear war. The fear of the devastating effects of nuclear force was typical of the Cold War era. The world was still recovering from the effects of World War II and events, such as the dropping of atomic bombs in Japan, were fresh in the minds of citizens throughout the world. In 1945, the United States released the "Little Boy" atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima that destroyed nearly everything in the city. Three days later, Nagasaki was also destroyed with the "Fat Man" atomic bomb. Tens of thousands of people died as a direct result of the bombings, a quarter of a million more perished of radiation poisoning within 30 days. Even though the war ended shortly after these events, the fear of retaliation and the increasing focus on the development of nuclear weapons by many military powers worldwide produced fear in the minds of people. After the war, tension increased between the two major military powers of the time, the U.S.S.R. and its satellite states and NATO including the United States, culminating in the Cold War. This was a time of uncertainty and the possibility of nuclear war was a daily fear.
- In 1950, an adaptation was broadcast as the 11th episode of Dimension X, a science-fiction radio program.
- In 1953, an adaptation of the story was published in issue 17 of the comic book Weird Fantasy, with art by Wally Wood.
- In 1956, the story was made into a radio play for the X Minus One series.
- In 1962, an adaptation of the story by Nesta Pain was broadcast on the BBC's Third Programme.
- In 1962, actor Burgess Meredith recorded this story, which was released on LP by Prestige Lively Arts (30004), along with "Marionettes, Inc.", also by Bradbury.
- In 1964, the X Minus One script was reused on the radio series NBC Experiment in Drama.
- In 1975, actor Leonard Nimoy's rendition of this story and Ray Bradbury's Usher II, also from The Martian Chronicles, were released on Caedmon Records.
- In 1977, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains was released. It used the resources of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop under the direction of Malcolm Clarke.
- In 1984, Soviet studio Uzbekfilm produced "There Will Come Soft Rains" as a short animated film.
- In 1992, Lebbeus Woods adapted the story to the third issue of the comic book series Ray Bradbury Chronicles.
- In 2008, a theater/dance/puppetry adaptation served as the final act of a New York Fringe Festival show by Sinking Ship Productions named after the story.
- In 2008, the post-apocalyptic game Fallout 3, which takes place in the irradiated remnants of Washington, DC, featured a robot in a house in Georgetown which, upon entering a command in a terminal in the house, would hover in the bedroom of the occupant's children and recite the poem for which this story is named. The robot reciting the poem is a reference to the story, as is the content of the poem itself.
- In 2015, shortly after Leonard Nimoy's death, the concept album Soft Rains was released featuring Nimoy's 1975 reading, set to music by producer Carwyn Ellis under the pseudonym Zarelli.
- Bradbury, Ray. "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains." The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2011. 116-121. Print.
- There are three locations called Allendale, California. It is not clear which of them Bradbury had in mind.
- Mandelbaum, Michael. The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics Before and After Hiroshima. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Print.
- Rosenburg, Jennifer. " Hiroshima and Nagasaki." About.com. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 23 October 2011.
- "Ray Bradbury Read By Leonard Nimoy — The Martian Chronicles: There Will Come Soft Rains — Usher II at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains". Home.wlv.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- Экранизации произведений Рэя Брэдбери (in Russian). Raybradbury.ru. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "There Will Come Soft Rains". Sinking Ship Productions. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "McClellan family townhome — The Vault, the Fallout wiki — Fallout: New Vegas and more". Falloutwiki.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05.