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"There Will Come Soft Rains," a short story by Ray Bradbury is a futuristic tale about technology and artificial intelligence becoming integrated into the everyday household in the form of a smart house. A self-sufficient, self-cooking, self-cleaning house that manages a family's life within its walls. However, this technological advancement is set against the backdrop of total destruction.
"Humans have created a bomb that destroys them all and a house that is incapable of being destroyed by the bomb. But fire, a force of nature, is able to destroy the house. In the end, the earth, though damaged, still exists. By describing this continuity, Bradbury points out his belief: that the earth was around long before humankind and it will be around long after."
While the smart house continues to serve the now dead family, beyond its walls, there is destruction, death and the after effects of nuclear annhilation. Mankind has used his knowledge and ability to advance science so far, that he has created the instruments of his own destruction.
Ray Bradbury makes a chilling prophecy in this story about the potential that we face in the future. We can, literally, advance so far with our technology that we make ourselves obsolete.
While the house struggles to survive, it is eventually destroyed by fires that it cannot extinguish fast enough. It is fascinating, however, to think that while the people were destroyed, left as shadows, or powder burns, images on the side of the house, the smart house, of course did not know that they were gone, it continued to react as if they were in the house. And, sadly, the living being in the house, the dog, who returns, starving, is denied food.
Bradbury, a master at bringing to our attention the flaws of imperfect mankind that simmer just below the surface and could rise up and swallow us up at any time. He reflects on a time when it appeared that the world would end, when massive bombs were used in war. He imagines that possibility again in this story.
"Bradbury wrote "There Will Come Soft Rains" in the early 1950s. The memory of World War II was fresh in peoples' minds, particularly the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August, 1945, which brought the war to an end."
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