38
  • Media: Short story collection
  • When I read it: 2011 but the story itself was much older (unsure how much) so this information only serves to clarify that it is by no means new.
  • Plot summary: A futuristic home with household robots that help around the house (cooking, cleaning etc.), we learn about their routines and behaviour and later on it's revealed that nobody is home, in fact everyone is dead, and a description of the outside seems to imply post-nuclear apocalypse.
  • Setting: I seem to remember snow or winter
  • What it isn't: with Google I stumbled upon There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury, and the plot is very similar, and the beginning made me think "Bingo!", but I do not remember there being a fire in the story I read, and I also remember a view from a briefly opened door, or window, of a snowy setting, so while it may be that I am confusing elements of another story, or my imagination, with There Will Come Soft Rains, I would still like to run this through here as a question, because I'm not convinced.
  • Additional info: The short story collection had other short stories that I will include as I remember them, details will be fuzzy:
    • Meteor, by John Wyndham
    • The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    • A short story about a man who is driving a car and it is revealed in the end that he was dead the whole time
    • The Signal Man, by Charles Dickens
  • 16
    Now this is how an identification question should look: clearly structured information and what it isn't. +1 – Wikis Nov 1 '16 at 13:31
  • 1
    The one with the alien ship crash is probably John Wyndham's "Meteor". I've found reference to an anthology that contains that and ''The Yellow Wallpaper'' and ''The Signalman'', but it's on a site for ebook downloads and I can't find the actual title. (aicegladiators.com/short-stories---stories_of_ourselves) – FuzzyBoots Nov 1 '16 at 13:52
  • Thanks @FuzzyBoots, I was probably in the middle of typing out an answer to my own question while you typed that comment out. I discovered the answer to my own question after googling some of the additional short stories I'd remembered. Your comment is correct, "Stories of Ourselves" from Cambridge is the collection I read it from. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 1 '16 at 14:01
  • I feel like an idiot, not exhausting my efforts with my own long-term memory and Google, before asking the question here, but had I not written the question out myself, I probably would never have remembered those other accompanying stories which led me to my answer. Next time I'll write it out on Notepad or something first. Apologies to any moderators, I hope it's not a big problem that I answered my own question. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 1 '16 at 14:04
  • 3
    It's definitely not a problem to answer your own question! And what you've just experienced is a known phenomena. So it's all good! :) – Wikis Nov 1 '16 at 14:06
19

Story identified: There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury

The story begins by introducing the reader to a computer-controlled house that cooks, cleans, and takes care of virtually every need that a well-to-do United States family could be assumed to have. The reader enters the text on the morning of August 4, 2026, and follows the house through some of the daily tasks that it performs as it prepares its inhabitants for a day of work. At first, it is not apparent that anything is wrong, but eventually it becomes clear that the residents of the house are not present, and that the house is empty. While no direct explanation of the nonexistence of the family is produced, the silhouettes of a man, a woman, two children, and their play ball are described as having been burnt into one side of the house, implying that they were all incinerated by the thermal flash of a nuclear weapon.
– Plot summary from Wikipedia

Confirmed by the contents of the collection of short stories provided in "Additional Information" part of the question, they seem to match the contents of Stories of Ourselves: The University of Cambridge International Examinations Anthology of Stories in English (Cambridge Learning), which contains the following short stories (among many others):

  • The Signalman, by Charles Dickens
  • The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • How It Happened, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • There Will Come Soft Rains, by Ray Bradbury
  • Meteor, by John Wyndham
  • The Lemon Orchard, by Alex la Guma
  • Secrets, by Bernard MacLaverty
  • The Taste of Watermelon, by Borden Deal
  • The Third and Final Continent, by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • On Her Knees, by Tim Winton
  • Ah. Different edition of "Stories of Ourselves:. :-P – FuzzyBoots Nov 1 '16 at 14:01
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    wait, I'm confused... in your question you say that you found this story but it is not the story you are looking for, but then you answer your own question suggesting that it is? – user11521 Nov 1 '16 at 17:52
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    @Michael That's right. You can read in my original question "it may be that I am confusing elements of another story, or my imagination, with There Will Come Soft Rains". And you can read in my answer the part that says "Confirmed by". Basically, writing about it jogged my memory about accompanying stories. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 1 '16 at 18:20
5

Long shot here, but what you describe sounds an awful lot like the Soviet-era Uzbek short animated film "There Will Come Soft Rains" directed by Nazim Tulyakhodzayev -- and obviously based off the Bradbury story of the same title. The open door, the fire, the snowfall, and the window all figure prominently, if I'm recalling correctly.

Film here:

  • I don't see a fire exactly, but there is an explosion. Open windows and doors and snow galore, though. – jpmc26 Nov 2 '16 at 3:31
  • In the Bradbury story, there was a fire. This film takes significant... artistic liberties... with the story. – Doktor J Nov 2 '16 at 6:21

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