I admit that I chose my two short stories based on their length (three pages was more realistic for me than forty), but I ended up finding them both interesting. I began with Finis. Immediately, I found it difficult to determine the relationship amongst all of the characters, but I think that lead to another point that in the face of death, we are all just humans. It seemed as if within a minute, the entire world went from excited to see this new “sun” to trying to escape death. This story did not draw me in until they began talking about the theory of this sun, and then it made almost no sense to me. It was believed that it “must be of an immensity and temperature beyond anything known or imagined,” but nobody considered that it would cause more damage than our current sun.
Now, I wasn’t expecting the world to end, but I was expecting a few sunburns and the drying out of some frogs. This flaw though, seems human. The science of something is often not what the human population is concerned with. After all, people were reportedly staring directly at the sun only a few months ago. What I saw as a mistake in the story actually poked fun of the ignorance of people and pointed out that we likely won’t know that “the end” is coming until it is minutes, or hours, away. Even though the author used names for the characters, it wasn’t necessary. Everyone can find a way to relate to not knowing what to do when the unexpected occurs, in this case being death. Alice and Eastwood were just male and female trying to survive, and I could easily imagine it happening.
There Will Come Soft Rains took a very different approach to the apocalypse. The only human characters was the family, frozen playing catch for eternity, outside. Instead, Bradbury focused on animals. The mice cleaning, the okapi leaving a trail (I have to point out that okapis are my favorite animal, and I have never before seen them written about in a story), the pink antelope. None of these actions, animals, or colors are what would be expected. Humanity, and its expectations, are truly gone in this world. Time goes on, as the clock makes painstakingly obvious, but nobody seems to care. I found this story more enjoyable because it focuses on life itself, not humans. It does not truly matter what humans did to end the world; they are all dead. What matters now is what the rest of the world will do to survive. The end of humanity is clearly not the end of the world in this story. The house burned down, time continued, and the wild animals remained, and now how humans saw them.
These stories focused on entirely different parts of the apocalypse; during versus after, the impact on humans versus animals, but both show that humans are not what define a planet. There are thousands of other species in our world, and some of them will be able to survive any catastrophe, manmade or not.