In one of the kids' magazines I or my brothers had in the 1980s, there was a science fiction story I would like to find again. It was about a family who won a contest or sweepstakes and got to live for a week or a month in a futuristic "intelligent" house. I believe opening sentence was something like this: "This is the story of my father [sustained some injury] living in the house of the future."

I remember a few things about the house. The narrator's (one of the children in the family, named Becky) first impression was that it looked like a giant marshmallow. It didn't have a key lock on the front door, but it relied on voice identification to let people in. When the father caught a cold, he couldn't get the door to recognize his voice, so he had to get the kids to let him into the house.

This was just one of several problems that occurred over the course of the brief time that the family was staying in the house. Another problem happened when the narrator's brother left a school project on top of one of the cars in the garage. The project was destroyed when the house automatically washed the cars during the night.

I don't remember many other incidents, although I'm pretty sure there was some problem with the family's pet, and the house made weird noises at night. Does anybody know what this story might have been?

I am pretty sure that this appeared in the same magazine as the story I asked about in this question: Children's magazine story about cat turned into a cyborg. I have a feeling that, at the time, the magazine seemed to be cheaply produced—thinner and less skillfully illustrated than 3-2-1 Contact or Ranger Rick. Whatever it was, I suspect that the back issues are not to be found anywhere out there on the Internet. I think another (non-SF) story from the magazine may have been called "Operation Lima Bean," about a kid who avoids eating the titular legume by giving them to his dog; but rather than eat them itself, the dog (named "Shep"?) hides the beans in the boys baseball cleats.

  • I think there's also a Danny Dunn book about a malfunctioning “house of the future” with a voice lock! Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


I found what I think is your "horrible 'intelligent' house" story, called "House of the Future" (1988) by Eric Weiner as seen in the November 1988 issue of 3-2-1 Contact:

If you ever met my father, you'd probably say he was quiet, serious, and polite. You would be right. Except for one week last September. By the end of that week he was screaming at all of us. He ended up climbing a tree in a rainstorm and falling and breaking his leg.

The trouble all started when Mom won first prize in our fire department's annual raffle. First prize was three free weeks in the Paradise House of the Future....


See. for weeks, PJ had been working on this diorama of the Pilgrims for his American history class. It was due that day. After Dad yelled at him. he put it in the garage on top of our car so he wouldn’t forget it.

The trouble was, the garage of the House of the Future has an automatic car wash. Every Sunday it’s supposed to automatically wash, wax, and polish your car. Well, when P.J came back to the kitchen we heard this strange noise coming from the garage. The automatic carwash had gone off at the wrong time. PJ's diorama got washed, waxed, and polished into little bits.


Dad walked up to the front door and said, "Hello, it's Wallace Sweeney." But his voice was kind of hoarse from his cold and the door didn't open.

The lima bean and cyborg cat stories are both distantly familiar to me; I'll keep hunting.

  • Wow, thanks for locating this! (I also remember the article before the story in that issue, about repairing damaged money.)
    – Buzz
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 16:50
  • Welcome to the 100+ club!
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 20:01

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