Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bradbury 31, Day 19: "There Will Come Soft Rains"

Yet again, I'm looking back on a Ray Bradbury short story which is best-known for comprising part of The Martian Chronicles. "There Will Come Soft Rains" debuted on its own in 1950 just ahead of the book itself. It is a very well-regarded Bradbury tale; I have one friend who a great fan of science fiction throughout the 20th century and while he's not much of a Bradbury fan, he believes this story is among sci-fi's finest.

In 1950 the radio show Dimension X adapted the story as a double feature alongside Bradbury's "Zero Hour" - a rather different tale of Mars. The computer voice in this version has a staccato rhythm which really sticks in the memory ("Today is October 6, 2026..."). You can listen to the show at here.

Al Feldstein and Wally Wood adapted it to EC comics in 1953 and did a fine job. Comic book versions also include the 1992 Topps version by Lebbeus Woods (which was published side-by-side with a reprint of the Feldstein/Wood version) and as part of Dennis Calero's The Martian Chronicles graphic novel. It is also one of the rare Bradbury tales to be animated; the animated version was made in 1984 by a Soviet animation studio and it is, if anything, more grim than Bradbury's text. In all, "There Will Come Soft Rains" is a fine representation of nuclear anxiety, the fear of the cataclysmic effects nuclear war would have on civilian populations. "Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, if mankind perished utterly; and spring herself as she woke at dawn would scarcely know that we were gone - that we were gone - that we were gone - that we were gone..."

Another Ray Bradbury tale tomorrow!

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