Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Veldt

"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.

George and Lydia install the latest technology in their house. The house does everything for the family from clothing them to feeding them to rocking them to sleep at night. They call this new technology the “Happylife Home” and it cost the family $30,000 to install. The nursery becomes a virtual reality room, able to reproduce any setting.

George and Lydia soon realize that there is something wrong with the nursery and even their way of living. Lydia longs for a vacation, George takes up smoking and drinking. The children become spoiled and end up ruling the roost. Besides the African setting, George and Lydia find personal recreations of their belongings in the nursery. Strange screams have been heard.

They discover a problem with the nursery when it appears to be stuck in an African setting. This includes the hot sun and even lions feeding in the distance. George and Lydia do not understand why their children would be concerned with Africa or with death. They decide to call a psychologist. David McClean suggests they turn off the room and the house, and leave. The children talk their way into one last nursery visit before their parents shut the room down. The children trick their parents and lock them in and the virtual reality that manifests deadly lions. The parents are slain.

David McClean comes to the house, and the children offer him tea. They go on living as if nothing has happened. The African setting continues.

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