Ray Bradbury's "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" (short story, science fiction): Lone smart home standing in city that died of nuclear attack
Plot is generally similar to Arthur Clarke's "The Curse" & "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth ..." - this story & the first Clarke's story describe the fate of a city that has borne a nuclear attack; Clarke's second story describes the whole dead earth in the aftermath of nuclear war.
I personally find Bradbury's version far more interesting compared to either of Clarke versions. Unlike "The Curse", it doesn't require knowledge of specific place - making it more accessible to international readers.
While the tone of all 3 is sad, Bradbury softens it substantially by describing the dead world in the background rather than foreground. Much of the story is a description of a smart home - cleaning & waste disposal robots, automatic kitchen, ... Sad part comes with interspersed reminders - food prepared by automatic kitchen when all 4 human occupants (McClellans family - man, wife, plus 2 children - a son & a daughter) are long dead (but kitchen doesn't know it), etc. There are no human actors, though a dog makes appearance.
It's set "in the city of Allendale, California", mostly on "August 4, 2026" - a small part the next day.
Title comes from Sara Teasdale's poem of the same title (penned 1920 in the aftermath of World War I); poem tells us that humanity will be forgotten by other survivors of the human wars. The house automatically sings it, because it was a favorite of the woman residing there:
"There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
(Link above is to full text of poem.)
Bradbury's story, penned in 1951, obviously was a reaction to World War II.
Full text of this story is available for download. Note there appear to be two slightly different versions of this story - this post is based on the version that appears in Bradbury's collection "The Martian Chronicles"; there is a standalone version too. I don't know which version the download link will fetch.
Fact sheet.First published: Colliers, 6 May 1950.
Listed in Contento's Top Ten Most Reprinted Stories.
Related: All stories of Ray Bradbury.