Yesterday I was thinking about all the ideas and visions and ambitions that are reshaping Nashville and other cities all over the country as suburbanites push to urban cores and gentrification becomes the only game in town. So often what we want isn’t what we need or even what we thought we wanted once we have it, but then it’s too late.
Science fiction is full of these cautionary tales about wishes come true, and one of my favorites is “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. Here’s the Wiki…
“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.
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 a 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.
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 Linda Kelsey, Malcolm Stewart, Shana Alexander, and Thomas Peacocke.
Here is “The Veldt”…