The Veldt (short story)
|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 American author Ray Bradbury. Originally appearing as "The World the Children Made" in the 23 September 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, it was republished under its current name in the 1951 anthology The Illustrated Man.
In the story, two children solve their disappointment with their parents by escaping to a simulated grassland that proves all too real.
The Hadley 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 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 wonder if there is something wrong with their way of life. Lydia tells George, "That's just it. I feel like I don’t belong here. The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt? Can I give a bath and scrub the children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub bath can? I cannot." They are also perplexed and confused that the nursery is stuck on an African setting, with lions in the distance, eating the dead carcass of some sort of animal. There they also find recreations of their personal belongings and hear strangely familiar screams. 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 reliant on 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. They scream. 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 sees the lions eating something in the distance. The reader realizes that George and Lydia died at the hands of their own offspring, who had so often envisioned the lions eating them that it came true.
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).
"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 1987, a movie "Veldt" was made in the USSR (directed by Nazim Tulyakhojaev), where several of Bradbury's stories were intertwined. It was billed as the "First Soviet Horror Movie."
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.
- Simulated reality
- Simulated reality in fiction
- Smart House, a film loosely based on The Veldt
- Diskin, Lahna (2010-01-01). Bloom, Harold, ed. Ray Bradbury. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438131092.
The correspondence between the names of James Barrie’s memorable characters in Peter Pan and those of Bradbury’s children cannot be coincidental. In both works of fiction, Wendy and Peter arc devotees of never-never land, a dimension that is beyond the constraints and conventions imposed on demanding, if not persecuting, adults, and which is outside the limitations and changes decreed by time. In “The Veldt,” Wendy and Peter go beyond the point of no return. The vengeance they wreak on their parents leaves them unaffected and undisturbed. Afterward, when David MaClean, a psychologist and family friend, finds them nonchalantly and cheerfully picnicking in the savage setting they have stimulated, they show no signs of remorse or guilt. They are unholy terrors for whom expediency and self-preservation are the sole dictates of behavior. Like the baby in the next story, they are amoral and conscience-free.
- Boyd, Jason. "The World the Veldt Made". The Nerdclave. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
- "Savannen (1983)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Stephen Colbert reading 'The Veldt' by Ray Bradbury (Part 1 of 3)". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "deadmau5 feat. Chris James - The Veldt". YouTube. 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "deadmau5 ft. Chris James - The Veldt (Radio Edit)". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "deadmau5 feat. Chris James - The Veldt (Music Video)". YouTube. 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- 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