Ten SF Houses Of The Future
What can we expect from the house of the future? Enjoy these ten classic ideas from ten different sf authors; each item is linked to a longer article that has links to real-life attempts that to some degree implement that science fictional house.
From his classic 1951 story collection The Illustrated Man:
They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them. Their approach sensitized a switch somewhere and the nursery light flicked on when they came within ten feet of it...
From the excellent 1954 novel The Houses of Iszm; the dwelling spaces are actually hollow pods supported by branches, and connected by hollow boughs; the Iszic don't live inside tree-trunks.
There were trees comprised of a central columnar trunk and four vast leaves, arching out and over to the ground to form four domed halls illuminated by the pale green transmitted light. There was a tough-trunked tree supporting a single turretlike pod, with lanceolate foliage spiking outward at the base: a watch-tower for the feuding tribesmen of Eta Scorpionis.
Taken from his remarkable 1962 short story collection The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista.
...it consisted of six huge aluminum-shelled spheres suspended like the elements of a mobile from an enormous concrete davit. The largest sphere contained the lounge, the others successively smaller and spiraling upward into the air, the bedrooms and kitchen...
Stamers, the agent, left us sitting in the car... and switched the place on (all the houses in Vermillion Sands, it goes without saying, were psychotropic). There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate, brushing against the undergrowth.
...I got out and walked over to the entrance, the main sphere slowing as I approached, uncertainly steering a course toward me, the smaller ones following.
...As I stepped forward, it jerked away, almost in alarm, the entrance retracting and sending a low shudder through the rest of the spheres.
It's always interesting to watch a psychotropic house try to adjust itself to strangers, particularly those at all guarded or suspicious. The responses vary, a blend of past reactions to negative emotions, the hostility of the previous tenants...
Terrific example from one of Heinlein's earliest published stories And He Built A Crooked House:
Under Teal's impassioned heckling the tesseract house was built in days rather than weeks, and its cross shapped second story came jutting out at the four corners of the world...
...They climbed a fourth flight of stairs, but when the cover at the top lifted to let them reach the level above, they found themselves, not on the roof, but standing in the ground-floor room where they had entered the house.
From his 1952 story Ring Around the Sun:
"The houses are prefabricated units," said Crawford, "and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up. You can trade in your old home on them at a fantastic trade-in value and the credit terms are liberal — much more liberal, I might add, than any sane financing institution would ever countenance. They are heated and air conditioned by a solar plant that tops anything — you hear me, _anything_ — that we have today. There are many other features, but that gives you a rough idea."
"They sound like a good idea. We've been talking about low-cost housing for a long time now. Maybe this is it."
"They are a good idea," said Crawford. "I would be the last to deny they are. Except that they will ruin the power people.
Taken from one of Herbert's lesser-known (but still great!) works, The Godmakers (1972):
"Lewis was just telling me how our place is very much like his home on Chargon," Polly said.
"Old-fashioned, but we like it that way," Bullone said. "I don't like the modern trend in architecture. Too mechanical. Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time."
From Galactic Pot-Healer (1969), this dwelling illustrates PKD's practical side:
A new deep-depth rooming house in New Jersey, designed especially for geriatric persons, has built into it a novel circuit, designed to make the transfer of the room easy and without delay. When a roomer dies, electronic detectors in the wall register his lack of pulse and send swift circuits into action. The deceased is grappled by standard waldoes, drawn into the wall of the room, where on the spot his remains are incinerated within an asbestos chamber, thus permitting the new tenant, also a geriatric case, to take possession by noon.
From the entirely possible future of Snow Crash (1992):
Hiro Protagonist and Vitaly Chernobyl, roommates, are chilling out in their home, a spacious 20 by 30 in a U-Stor-It in Inglewood, California. The room has a concrete slab floor, corrugated steel walls separating it from the neighboring units and - this is a mark of distinction separating it from the neighboring units - a roll-up steel door that faces northwest, giving them a few red rays at times like this, when the sun is setting over LAX.
From Clarke's powerful 1953 classic Childhood's End:
Most people had two homes, in widely separated parts of the world. Now that the polar regions had been opened up, a considerable fraction of the human race oscillated from Arctic to Antarctic at six-monthly intervals, seeking the long, nightless polar summer. Others had gone into the deserts, up the mountains, or even into the sea. There was nowhere on the planet where science and technology could not provide one with a comfortable home...
I couldn't resist this one, from a pre-SF novel of 1828 - The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-First Century:
"Oh! what is that?" cried Edric, without attending to him, as, lost in amazement, he saw a house in the suburbs gently slide out of its place, and glide majestically along the road, a lady at one of the windows kissing her hand to some one in another house as she passed. "Do my eyes deceive me, or does that house move?"
"Certainly it does," replied the doctor. "Did you never see a moving house before?... You see that there are grooves in the bottom of the houses that just fit on the iron railways; and as they are propelled by steam, they slide on without much trouble.
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Ten SF Houses Of The Future
Ten science fiction classics from ten science fiction authors.
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