I remember reading this in an anthology over 15 years ago:

A married couple lives in an automated house/citadel that satisfies their every need. Somehow, it also preserves them; life is so stable and there's so little need for them to do anything or think that time slows down for them, and they become gradually less responsive to anything. After much time, for some reason other people start evacuating the earth, and try numerous times to contact the couple, but they either they don't respond to the attempted contact in time, or are confident they can survive inside their self-powered house. Everyone else leaves, and there is a very long silence. The earth goes into a new ice age, but they stay safe and warm inside, barely moving as the centuries pass. After many ages pass, there's some powered noise outside, and several knocks on the door; some last attempt from a space traveler to get their attention, but after much waiting without response, the visitor leaves; much later one of the insiders asks the other something like "did you hear that?" but they soon forget it and lapse again into lethargy. After millions of years, even the atmosphere freezes, and eventually either the pressure causes the house to explode or the sun goes nova, and they die instantly.

From the tone I'd guess it's late 1950's or 1960s.

  • 2
    I don't know the story, but, if it helps, it sounds really Bradbury-esque.
    – Tango
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 23:25
  • It sounds very similar to a story a friend told me about once. I'll ask him if this sounds familiar.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 1:12
  • I'm afraid I don't know the story you describe here, but as @TangoOversway says, it's very Ray Bradbury. He's written similar things about future houses attempting to provide for the needs of their inhabitants which end equally badly...
    – sam-w
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 22:24
  • This sounds very similar to a short story I read a few years ago by J. G. Ballard... sorry I don't remember the name of the story.
    – cjstehno
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


"Nor Custom Stale" by Joanna Russ, from The Hidden Side of the Moon. This review of the collection includes this excerpt:

[...]The critique of the smothering, isolating rule of the “feminine mystique” and the lot of a housewife is particularly incisive, wrapped up in the almost-comedic story of a hermetically sealed House that begins to malfunction, trapping its residents inside without changes in routine or a way to measure time, until the end of the universe.

  • Please provide excerpts, or synopsis details that doesn't make someone dive down the rabbit-hole.
    – Solemnity
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 2:54
  • The answer looks correct. I've provided another reference.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 4:59

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