Lauren Sargent

A Rusted Future

This week I had the pleasure of reading two post-apocalyptic short stories. The first of these was There will come soft rains by Ray Bradbury. From the get go, this story drew me in with a full immersion into the destroyed post-apocalyptic world that it took place in. Bradbury’s choice of diction made the world come alive with vivid details and descriptions. Rather than coming from a character’s point of view (there isn’t anyone around for that) or describing plainly what had happen to the world, he leaves the reader to piece it together through little vignettes and the processes of a day. The reader is inserted straight into the “action” of an eerily lonesome domestic routine. What I really enjoyed about Bradbury’s short story was how he so perfectly captured the sense of emptiness that the world had with the absence of humans. It was almost sad to see the house continue to function as if people were there, almost as if it missed having a purpose and company. This was emphasized by the use of human words and qualities when describing the last standing home as it went about its work and ultimately was destroyed. The house “died” and fell away with human voices that were recorded, like it had its own parting words. This was a haunting short story but I also couldn’t stop thinking about the house just like it in the children’s show, Roly Poly Oly. I’m not sure if that makes it more light-hearted or even more tragic to imagine, but the idea of a home that is automated and cares for human’s every needs is an interesting one that may come to fruition in the future.

 Rest in peace, Roly Poly Oly house…

The second story I read was The Defenders by Philip K. Dick. I was excited to read something by Philip K. Dick because he wrote the book that Blade Runner was based on and I decided not to choose that book for our semester long reading. This then was my first taste of Dick’s writing. I enjoyed this story for the sense of anticipation and suspense that it built up. At first, I thought that I was going to be able to call all the twists and turns coming. The narrative seemed linear and I had already guessed that the leadys were acting independently above ground. However, I thought that they were living selfishly and enjoying a humanless world. Dick’s writing was surprisingly optimistic and hopeful. This short story was another case of jumping right into the action. There was no lengthy exposition or history lesson on how the world ended and how they got to where they were. Instead, you learned information as you needed it and as you went along. This story was also striking to me because it had elements that connected with today’s issues. Maybe humans WILL end up underground while a nuclear war is being fought above ground with the Russians. It’s possible. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll have wise and selfless robot minions to take care of the world and prepare us for a utopic future if that does happen. I always love robots being shown in a positive light, though, so I was happy to see a positive ending with helpful robot buddies.

These two stories showed very opposing sides to how technology could impact our post-apocalyptic lives. On one hand, technology could die alongside us and wither away in an empty world with no purpose. On the other, technology could be a saving grace and protect us. It’ll be curious to say just which way the real world trends.

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