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When the Rain Comes (Analog Shorts)

When the Rain Comes is a quick story following the daily routine of a worker plotting data from an environmentally ravaged world. Collins mixes mundanity with tragedy, expertly propelling us toward an ominous ending.


Ron Collins
Analog Science Fiction & Fact, September-October 2018 Issue



When the Rain Comes is a bleak picture of the future, where toxic rain destroys life, corroding civilization day by day. It starts as a mundane tale, watching a robot cook breakfast for her human counterpart. She heads to the roof to take readings, call in maintenance requests, then returns to the main room. It seems like it’s pretty straightforward until you realize the man she’s preparing meals for is dead and she’s unaware that he won’t be coming back to life. The way this truth was revealed was both horrifying and surprising. We don’t think about how the end of the world would affect a simply programmed machine. Collins shows us how bleak it can be.


The main character is a robot without a distinct personality. She copies the feelings, sayings and actions of the human that once worked alongside her. She’s stuck in the programmed daily routine, saying the same things, cooking the same meal, without end. It’s tragic to realize this machine will continue waiting for decades, misunderstanding that civilization has most likely ended beyond her remote tower.


Not much is known about this future, besides the onset of poisonous rain and its decimation of the natural world. We know that these environmental changes were predicted by some kind of government agency, and continue to follow the expected path. For the main character, it’s a lonely world as she goes through the motions, though she seems unaware of the changes going on around her.


Environmentalism, Climate Change, Robots, Dystopia

Interested in more stories like When the Rain Comes? Read our short story reviews here.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

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