Solving a Ray Bradbury mystery

When we learned during the show yesterday that Ray Bradbury had died at 91, our producers did a great job scrambling to get Jonathan Eller as a guest at the end of the 11:00 hour .

Little did I know that Eller — the director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis — and one our callers would end up solving one of (my) life’s greatest mysteries.

I have a memory from my youth of reading a Bradbury short story about a futuristic world, where a family lives with all sorts of gadgetry that does all the living for humans. I had a vague memory of a television-like gadget that projected a jungle that proves to be one of the character’s downfall.

But that was all I remember from the story – other than I recall really enjoying it while reading it that day in school so many years ago!

And for years, I’ve had it in my head that the title included the word ‘jungle.’ I’ve searched the Internet several times, wondering how I could possibly be the only person in the world who had read this ‘jungle’ story – surely the Internet would find it for me, but to no avail. I even questioned whether I had Bradbury as the correct author.

Today, during the show, a caller noted a story called “The Veldt” that, when our guest Jonathan Eller started to describe, I soon realized was the story that had evaded me.

Two seconds and one Google search later, I had been reunited with the story that I knew I loved reading at one point in my past. The Veldt! That was the name. If you had been in the studio in that moment, you would have seen my eyes light up.

I now have my after-dinner reading all lined up. Turns out when you’re looking under the correct title, the story is really easy to find online. In fact, it’s been sitting right here, on a University of Minnesota-Duluth server, this entire time.

–Tom Weber