The futuristic house in Bradbury’s, “There Will Come Soft Rains” does just about everything for its owners except save them from a nuclear war. The house is vacant except for all the technology and mechanical gadgets that live on despite their owners’ deaths.
Here are some of the things this “smart house” did for its owners:
- A mechanical stove makes breakfast for the family.
- There are robot vacuum cleaners or “mice” that clean up any messes in the house (including the dead dog outside).
- The house is full of mechanical voices that tell the time and weather. A clock repeats the hour and reminds the family of important events.
- The house prepares baths for its family.
- It lights a pipe for the father of the house.
- When the house catches on fire, there is a sprinkler system that attempts to douse the flames.
- Piped in music plays the homeowner’s favorite songs.
- The mechanical voice reads a Sara Teasdale poem; the first line has the title of the story.
In this excerpt, Bradbury describes the technology of the house as a religion, a way of life for its former inhabitants, “The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.”
The irony of the story is that despite all the technology of this society, it is that very technology that kills them.