“The Veldt” is a 1950 science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury. It is about a couple of parents who become concerned when their children use a virtual nursery to recreate an all-too-realistic African veldt.
Non-Spoiler Summary In A Nutshell:
“The Veldt” follows George and Lydia Hadley, who live in their ultra-modern Happylife home with their two children, Wendy and Peter. Their amazing house does it all – it cooks and cleans for them, turns the lights on and off automatically, rocks them to sleep, and even has a virtual nursery. Aah – and it is the nursery that is the beginning of their problems! When Lydia decides that the African scenes the children conjure up in the nursery are a little bit too realistic she and George restrict their use of it. Wendy and Peter, however, are not happy with their parents’ restrictions, and decide to take matters into their own hands.
They stood on the thatched floor of the nursery. It was forty feet across by forty feet long and thirty feet high; it had cost half again as much as the rest of the house. “But nothing’s too good for our children,” George had said.
The nursery was silent. It was empty as a jungle glade at hot high noon. The walls were blank and two dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. The ceiling above them became a deep sky with a hot yellow sun.
My Two Cents:
• The good:
- “The Veldt” was one of the first science fiction short stories I ever read, and I was blown away by the cool ideas and dark themes presented in it.
- The first time I read this story was over twenty years ago, before I had ever heard of a “holo-deck”, but I instantly loved the concept. Could this be the first mention of the famed Star Trek Holo-deck? Possibly! Sure, the one in “The Veldt” uses “odorophonics” and crystal walls with “superreactionary, supersensitive color film” behind them, but it is still the same awesome idea – a room that creates a virtual playland.
- If you are a fan of Ray Bradbury’s writings then this is one story that you can’t miss!
• The bad:
- Remember, this story was written in 1950 so there are some outdated concepts. It definitely isn’t anything that should keep you from reading this great short story, however.
• Page Count: 11
• Word Count: 4,612
• “The Veldt” garnered the following awards:
- While this short story didn’t win any awards on its own, The Illustrated Man (the collection in which it appears) has won several – including placing 33rd in the 1999 Locus All-Time Poll.
Where you can find “The Veldt”:
- This short story first appeared in the September 23, 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
- “The Veldt” is included in Ray Bradbury’s fantastic short story collection The Illustrated Man.
- You can listen to the Spaceship Radio audio version of “The Veldt” at the Internet Archive, or the Dimension-X version.
- You can read a free online version of “The Veldt” at veddma.com.
Some Interesting Links:
- I’m sure you’ve heard of Ray Bradbury, but if not then be sure to check out the Wikipedia article about him.
- Is “The Veldt” a reaction to the invention of television? Hmm… maybe. James Wallace Harris thinks so.
Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed this story then you might also like The Father-Thing, about a boy who suspects that his father has been replaced by an alien, by Philip K. Dick.