“The Veldt,” Ray Bradbury, 1950 – (Alternate title: “The World the Children Made”) Two children use a virtual reality nursery in their HappyLife Home, to which they are telepathically connected, to deal with their inconvenient parents.
The family has just taken up residence in their new HappyLife home, which cares for them in every respect, even brushing their teeth. The children soon become enamored with the VR nursery. A psychologist is called in to address the parents’ fears when they notice that the children are spending too much time in the room; additionally, the room is stuck on an African setting, displaying a violent scene in which lions in the distance seem to be eating the remains of recent kills. Further, the sensory experiences of the children inside the VR room are so “authentic” it is suggested that they perhaps frustrate the children’s ability to distinguish between reality and make believe. The psychologist advises them to disconnect the room. The children protest and are granted one last viewing. However, when their parents enter the room to extract them, the doors lock behind them. They realize that the “kills” in the distances are simulacra of their own remains.
Comments: Another story of unsocialized children without empathy or an appreciation of the consequences of their actions. See also “Zero Hour.” Whereas in “Zero Hour” the children seem to have been influenced by insidious “invaders,” here the children are influenced by a distancing effect of virtual reality and immersion in a fantasy world. Read in 18 Greatest SF Stories.
Author: Wikipedia: “Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951), Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th and 21st century American writers of speculative fiction. Many of Bradbury’s works have been adapted into television shows or films.”