“The Veldt” is the first story in Ray Bradbury’s anthology, The Illustrated Man. Published in 1951 by Doubleday, the book was a great success with readers and critics alike. It was the perfect followup to Bradbury’s successful publication of The Martian Chronicles the year before, and it cemented his reputation as a great writer. The anthology is a collection of short stories, most of which had been previously published individually in pulp and slick magazines. Bradbury tied these stories together with the framing device of the Illustrated Man himself. Each story is represented by a drawing upon the Illustrated Man’s body and the stories come to life and tell themselves as he brings each new illustration into view. Bradbury’s use of a sideshow character as a framing device reflects his own interest in the world of the carnival and sideshow. As a young boy, Bradbury was fascinated by the grotesque and sinister aspects he found lurking there, and these themes pervade many of his later works.
The rise in the popularity of television had a direct influence on Bradbury’s story “The Veldt.” At the time the story was written, many American families were acquiring their first television sets, and no one was sure exactly how this new technology would impact the relationships among family members. Some people were afraid that watching too much television would lead to the total breakdown of the family unit. This fear is directly re- flected in “The Veldt,” but in the story, Bradbury heightens the odds by creating a machine that not only allows children to detach emotionally from their parents, but one that can also physically destroy the parents, as well.