Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "This is the House" (as by Lawrence O'Donnell) (novelette, haunted house, free)
There are a lot of familiar themes here - I'm not sure which of them this story originated, & which it just used. But a very good read. Sort of ... spooky version of authors' "The Twonky" (download).
This also must be among the earliest stories about nano-tech.
Story summary.Bob Melton, his wife Michaela, & his brother-in-law Phil, have recently moved into a new house. Only, they've been having weird experiences:
- "Red ice" in the refrigerator.
- Coal furnace in the basement that burns without consuming coals!
- Weird noises barely registering with consciousness.
- Occasional feeling of complete disorientation; when normalcy returns, a lot of time seems to have passed.
- Windows that sometimes refuse to open; other times yield easily.
- Door bell that Bob doesn't hear, but Michaela can feel (though not hear)!
- ... it goes on & on.
- "The previous tenant probably rewired the house."
"Who was he? Einstein? Or a Martian?"
- "Machines can be so simple they're unrecognizable."
- "Machines in the walls".
"Very simple and very complicated. And unrecognizable. Paint is just paint, but you can do a Mona Lisa with it."
"So French coated the inside walls with paint that acts like a machine?"
"Invisible and intangible—how should I know? As for those noises at night—"
"I think the house is just recharging itself".
- "Eventually the world of the future—I think—won't be burdened with immense, complicated gadgets. Everything will be so simple—or seem so simple—that a man from the twentieth century might find it quite homelike, except for the results."
- Psychiatrist: "Half of my patients are slightly nuts, and, as long as they don't know it, they get along fine."
- On effect of environment on human psyche: "Lock a kid up in a dark closet, and he's apt to be afraid of the dark ever after."
- "If you had to move into a Ubangi hut and stay there. You wouldn't have anything in common with the natives, would you?"
"What would you do?"
"Change the huts a bit. Especially if I wanted to pretend I was a Ubangi, too. I wouldn't alter it outside, but I'd fix it up a bit inside, for my own convenience, and I wouldn't let anybody else come in. Chairs instead of grass mats. I wonder how French had this place furnished."
"Why would a white man live in a Ubangi village? To study ethnology or entomology, perhaps. Or for the climate. Or simply to rest—to hibernate."
- Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" (download): One of the best known stories featuring an automated live house that keeps on serving long after the original tenants are gone.
- Clifford D Simak's "The Big Front Yard": Well known story where the aliens quietly renovate the house, no need to ask permission of its human owner... And the resulting house becoming something else altogether!
- Larry Niven's "Wait It Out": A hibernating man - alive but time seems to be moving rather slowly...
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding, February 1946.
Download full text.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John W Campbell, Jr.