The Veldt (short story)
||This article uses bare URLs for citations. (May 2013)|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||The Saturday Evening Post|
|Media type||Print (Magazine)|
|Publication date||23 September 1950|
"The Veldt" is a short story written by Ray Bradbury that was published originally as "The World the Children Made" in the September 23, 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, later republished in the anthology The Illustrated Man in 1951. The anthology is a collection of short stories that were mostly published individually in magazines beforehand.
A family lives in an automated house called "The Happylife Home," filled with machines that do everything for them from cooking meals, to clothing them, to rocking them to sleep. The two children, Peter and Wendy (their names an obvious homage to Peter Pan and Wendy Darling), become fascinated with the "nursery", a virtual reality room that is able to connect with the children telepathically to reproduce any place they imagine.
The parents, George and Lydia, soon realize that there is something wrong with their way of life. They are also perplexed that the nursery is stuck on an African setting, with lions in the distance, eating the dead carcass of what they assume to be an animal. There they also find recreations of their personal belongings. Wondering why their children are so concerned with this scene of death, they decide to call a psychologist.
The psychologist, David McClean, suggests they turn off the house, move to the country, and learn to be more self-sufficient. The children, completely relied to the nursery, beg their parents to let them have one last visit. The nursery has replaced their real parents. They live for the nursery. The parents relent, and agree to let them spend one more minute there. When they come to the nursery to fetch the children, the children lock them in from the outside. George and Lydia look on as the lions begin to advance towards them. At that point, they realize that what the lions were eating in the distance was not an animal, but their own simulated remains. When David comes by to look for George and Lydia, he finds the children instead enjoying lunch on the veldt and realizes that George and Lydia died at the hands of their own offspring by lions.
The story was adapted (by Ernest Kinoy) into an episode of the radio program Dimension X in 1951. The same script was used in a 1955 episode of X Minus One, with the addition of a frame story in which it was explained that George and Lydia were not really slain, and that the entire family was now undergoing psychiatric treatment.
"The Veldt" was adapted for the cinema as part of The Illustrated Man (1969), but the film was very poorly received.
"The Veldt" was adapted into a stage production by Bradbury and can be found in a volume titled The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit & Other Plays in 1972.
In 1984, Michael McDonough of Brigham Young University produced "The Veldt" as an episode of Bradbury 13, a series of thirteen audio adaptations of famous Ray Bradbury stories, in conjunction with National Public Radio.
The Canadian-produced anthology television series The Ray Bradbury Theater included the story, scripted by Bradbury, as Episode #29 (Season 4, Episode 11). It was first broadcast 10 November 1989, and starred Malcolm Stewart, Shana Alexander, and Thomas Peacocke.
The BBC produced a radio play version in of "The Veldt" in 2007, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
In 2012, shortly before author Ray Bradbury's death, Canadian musician deadmau5 produced a song titled "The Veldt", including lyrics by Chris James based upon the story. The music video, released after Bradbury's death, is dedicated to him and shows a young boy and girl wandering through an African veldt and witnessing several plot points from the story, including vultures, and a lion eating an unseen carcass. It is illustrated in a similar fashion to that of the video game Limbo.
- Oates, Joyce Carol, ed. American Gothic Tales. New York: Tarcher, 1996.
- Kattelman, Beth. Critical Essay on "The Velt," in Short Stories for Students, Vol. 20, Thomas Gale, 2005.
- Hart, Joyce. Critical Essay on "The Velt," in Short Stories for Students, Vol. 20, Thomas Gale, 2005.
- McLaughlin, John J. "Science Fiction Theatre," in Nation, Vol. 200, No. 4, January 25, 1965, pp. 92–94. Reprinted in Short Stories for Students, Vol. 20.
- The Veldt title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Ray Bradbury’s official website
- a short review of the story with resources for finding it