What is ordinary about the setting in the story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?
Although this story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where the year is 2026, there are some parts of the setting that you would recognize.
The story takes place in Allendale, California, on August 4. There is no official town called Allendale, although it is a neighborhood of Oakland, California. California certainly exists and August is the name of a month we still use.
Although many of the house’s features are automated, they are things that are recognizable elements of our own setting. The alarm clock may talk, but we all have alarm clocks. The house talks about birthdays, which we celebrate. They still celebrate them in 2026. This house also makes a breakfast that we would recognize.
In the kitchen the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh and ejected from its warm interior eight pieces of perfectly browned toast, eight eggs sunnyside up, sixteen slices of bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of milk.
No, our houses do not make us breakfast (except for automatic coffee pots on timers), but the breakfast itself is part of the setting of many American homes. We also have automatic garage door openers and automatic sprinklers in many of our homes. Unfortunately, this family did not have anyone to get in the car, because they had been reduced to spots of paint by the nuclear blast.
The garden sprinklers whirled up in golden founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness. The water pelted windowpanes, running down the charred west side where the house had been burned evenly free of its white paint.
Even though the people are gone, the house is still taking care of itself, because everything is automated. This is not that different. If we set something on automatic in our world, it will keep going until we turn it off or it runs out.
Although most of the other elements of the house are similar to things you would find in our houses, they have an advanced nature to them. The nursery is highly technical, with giant video screens. It reads you poetry. The house uses highly technical means to put out the fire. All in all though, it is just like one of our houses, just with more advanced technology.
The lesson here is that if we keep automating everything, we may eventually destroy ourselves. The house does not need the people to keep going. It runs on technology, but technology made the bomb too.