When searching for lasting classics to bring to the blog, I came upon this dystopian gem by Ray Bradbury and was eager to jump in. Knowing him to be a gifted visionary and having read a synopsis of the futuristic themes, it was sure to be a good time.
There Will Come Soft Rains is a 1950 short story from this Pulitzer Prize-winning Master of Sci-Fi, reminding us of the sharpness of the double-edged sword that is modern technology and how it is as futile as it is destructive.
With not a single human being found on its pages, we feel the solitude of a nuclear holocaust, without the graphic scenes or the catastrophe that enabled it. This starkness of the disaster juxtaposed against the busy routine and chipper voices of the technologically run house gave this reader a surreal feeling, as though I was observing another dimension.
A masterful depiction of future technology for a mid-century work, and one worth hearing today! After listening, please enjoy the commentary below and add to the discussion in the comments because your thoughts are appreciated!
You can listen and read along by watching on YouTube or Rumble by clicking on the embedded videos below.
There Shall Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury is a breathtaking and haunting example of the prophetic artistry found when bold enough to examine the timeless balance of nature and anti-nature, in this case: technology.
A tool of today's technocrat, or yesterday's imperialist, it is utilised for betterment when not being wielded for evil, leaving the masses confused by its relevance and accepting of its torment. When contrasting the organisation and sterility of automation with the abundance and muckiness of evolutionary chaos in the natural universe, we witness a ceaseless battle between - or, as I see it - the balance between good and evil.
It would seem that the old proverb, "the more things change, the more they stay the same, hits the nail on the proverbial head.
As shocking as it might be to realise Bradbury published this prescient story over seventy years ago, the fact remains that even with the light-speed advancement of technology since then, we are, as we have always been, at the mercy of our darkest minds and their intentions/inventions.
No amount of good fortune, harsh truths, or fallen rain can change the will of the evil among us to exert their lesser power against mother nature, forever flattened by the weight of their hubris, to the detriment of us all.
The unquenched thirst for dominance in the devilish souls of the greedy attempt to strongarm the radiance and truth of nature as she does her level best to wrestle out the goodness that lies dormant in humanity's demoralised hearts.
As far as Bradbury's telling is concerned, it is as much man's arrogance and imminent self-destruction as nature's impatience that settles the score. Technology is nothing if not man's creation, so the allowance of this contrivance to flourish to existential levels in the name of power and money in place of permitting the innate course of evolution that fosters every living being to bloom is the picture of evil.
In Bradbury's seemingly cautionary tale, the machine marches on of its own accord, nary a soul saved. But even it will meet its resolution when no one is left to honour it and nature takes its final blow, causing a rebirth of the cycle again.
Here is the WW1 era poem of the same name from Sara Teasdale that inspired the story and which he included within it.
What is your reaction to There Will Come Soft Rains, the poem or the story? Have you read either before, and did you feel the same about them when you did as you do now?
Art offers as many interpretations as there are people, and I love to hear differing perspectives, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!