36

I read a short story years ago. I don't remember the title or the author, but wish that I could.

It featured a family in the future- Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Dog. Dad works in a factory of some kind, supervising robots doing work. He gets a note one day that some hermit uncle he never heard of has died and left him some property. He takes the family out to see the property, and it turns out to be a shack in the middle of nowhere, with old books and magazines piled around, and a coffee machine.

Dad has difficulty figuring out how to do this manual labor, but eventually makes a cup of coffee and sips it triumphantly. He realizes that it is the first time in his life he's ever done anything, even the smallest thing (everything in the future is fully automated) and treasures the joy of a reward for a job well done.

When he goes back to work, he realizes that he is being paid to watch robots do work. The robots work perfectly. The robots always work perfectly, and if anything went wrong, the robots would fix it. He asks his boss why he is even there. His boss is confused, and assures him that his role is very important, very necessary, he is a value to the company. Dad goes home and tries to explain this to his family, but Mom just cares about her new hair style, Son just cares about his newest gadgets, and Daughter just cares about dates with boys.

The story eventually ends with Dad leaving the world behind to go live in the shack, drinking coffee, reading, and being content with life.

It was somewhere near the end, I think, when I put two and two together, connected the names, and realized that I knew this family. It was the Jetsons. This isn't a joke- it was clearly meant to be realized by the reader, but it was very subtle. It was meant to be something of a dig at the Jetsons, where George gives up the hyperfuturistic life for a quiet one enjoying the simple things in life. But if I hadn't caught the joke, I'd have enjoyed the story anyway.

I read the story in a collection, but I don't remember which one.

  • 9
    As a fan of the Jetsons, I really want to read this story now. – phantom42 Mar 19 '14 at 14:19
20
+200

The story name is "Good Old Days" by Kevin J. Anderson. It is in the book "The Future We Wish We Had".

“Your Uncle Asimov?” Jane asked. “George, dear, isn’t he that crazy old hermit out in the desert?”

“Yes, it was the last place in the country where he could live off the grid. He actually liked that sort of thing.” He looked down to scrutinize the contents of the box, hoping that the value of the items inside would at least pay for the delivery charge. He sneezed.
...
“But what do we do with this place?” Jane said with a growing horror in her voice.

“We’ll keep it. I just might come back, spend a whole two hours next time.”

“If you do that, George, you’re doing it alone.” Jane was completely no-nonsense. Under the sunshine and with her own perspiration, her always-perfect hairdo had begun to come undone.

He just smiled mysteriously at her. “That’s the idea.”

A preview of the book is on Google Books. The book is also available on Amazon.com.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.