I need the title of the short story that I describe next. I was fairly confident it was in Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man, but when I went to Wikipedia to review the short-stories there contained, I couldn't find the one I was looking for. I'm quite positive that it was written by Ray Bradbury, but now I'm second-guessing myself. I remember it vaguely, especially the ending, but I'm quite sure most of the following elements are in it:

This is set in a dystopic/utopic future (like pretty much all Ray Bradbury wrote), and it describes a smart house being tried because it has apparently killed its owner while the owner watched a movie. In this movie, the scene was very cold, and the house, thinking that it was a good movie-immersion idea, started to lower the temperature of the room, effectively killing its owner.

It is implied that the house has intelligence of its own, and it should have known better than to lower the temperature so much that the human inside would die, therefore it is brought to justice.

Or something like that.

I read it when I was like 6 years old (in 1996 or thereabout), please forgive my bad memory.

  • The story by Bradbury you cite might be There Will Come Soft Rains, which is about an automated house that keeps working even after the owners have gone (possibly died). Sadly I have no clue about the other story, the one you're looking for.
    – Zab Zonk
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 11:53
  • Yes, when reading the summary for that story I got excited, because I thought it was that one. But sadly it is not. It might not even be Bradbury's, but the narrative style and the topics match him so well I'm frankly quite sure it is his. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 12:03
  • In There Will Come Soft Rains, wasn't there a line about how all the people are dead due to nuclear war?
    – Bilskirnir
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 15:42
  • Yes, precisely. But not the story I was looking for. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 16:13
  • I am not sure I've read all Bradbury, but I don't recall a story like that in any of his works.
    – Gnudiff
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


I think the story you are looking for is House Arrest by Erik Larson. It was published in Arthur C. Clarke's "July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century"

The story is about an investigator called Frank D Angelo that is making a case against an intelligent house called Arthur that murdered its owner Palmerston.

The killing is made by dropping the temperature while Palmerston watch a movie about a group of scientists in the Arctic.

DA: What happened at nine pm?

D'Angelo: Okay. From what I can tell the dead guy, ah, the victim, turned on his video recorder. We found a tape labeled 123 in the machine. See, Palmerston was a movie freak. He liked old flicks. Like Bogart, Redford, Streep, stuff like that. He liked the scary ones, too. Like 123 - we found out it was this creepy movie with a guy named James Arness, about the scientists in the Arctic who find this monster frozen in the ice. Not bad, either.

DA: And would you describe this tape,

D'Angelo: It was an AS-1000. New issue.

DA: AS-1000?

D'Angelo: Uh-huh. As in audiosensory. The 1,000 is just the number of minutes. When you plug it in you get audio, a picture, and then you also give the house a set of instructions on how to behave during the film. You know, to make you happy or sad or scared or something. It's got ranges. You adjust your house to either maximum or minimum effect or even countereffect. Like if you're watching Frankenstein but you don't want to be too scared, you have the house keep the lights on bright and run a background of white noise so you don't hear anything creak, stuff like that. So in this case you get your weird noises, some lighting changes, but mostly you get your cold Arctic winds.

DA: Okay, so Palmerston put on tape 123. Then what?

D'Angelo: That's when things start going wrong, see. The dead—ah, Jeez, the victim, being the kind of guy who likes movies, set the mood-response system on high. So Arthur takes over. At first, hey, no problems. A little breeze, some wind noises. Good stuff. Then Arthur goes bonkers

  • Yep, that is the one! My friend is hooking up all this stuff to his entertainment system (we can't call it a TV anymore), so I thought of sending him this story to remind him to be careful.
    – Tihamer
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 13:52

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