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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Brave New World

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”
When in doubt always start reviews with a quote I always say, the above quote encapsulates the essence of Brave New World quite well I think. This is one of those very widely read books that needs no introduction (or a review really). It is surely a granddaddy of dystopian science fiction, along with Orwell’s [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313], who would have thought grim novels like these two would pave the way for today’s block busting lovey dovey adventure time dystopian fiction books.

Brave New World is included in most “all-time great” sci-fi books lists, usually in the top 10. While it uses the sci-fi tropes of a futuristic setting, genetic engineering, cloning and so forth the book reads more like a satire of society at the time (first published in 1932) than a straight sci-fi novel. As such it works very well, it is beautifully written, funny, shocking, tragic and of course thought provoking.

The future world (well, the UK) posited by this book is one in which the populace are all created in hatcheries and divided into castes from birth through the process of genetic engineering and conditioning (brain washing) from infancy. Members of the working class ,“Gamma”, “Delta” and “Epsilon”, are all clones with minimum intelligence designed for working in dull repetitive jobs, at the other end of the social spectrum are the “Alpha” and “Beta” class of intelligent and more naturally developed people for jobs in administration, science and art; though they are also heavily conditioned (brainwashed). A state approved and distributed drug called Soma is freely available for all.

Entering into this state controlled society is John “The Savage”, a man accidentally born in a reservation outside civilization by natural birth. John finds himself fish out of water everywhere he goes, inside and outside of civilization. It is through John’s eyes that we witness the inhumanity of this “World State” society. His main antagonist is the highly intelligent Mustapha Mond, the Controller for Western Europe. Mond is very similar to O'Brien from [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313], he is very articulate, his arguments tend to be intelligent and persuasive until you think about the deeper moral implication and the inhumanity underlying his philosophy. The “showdown” of this book is a lengthy philosophical debate between Mond and John that is fascinating and well worth repeated reading.

The novel goes through several tonal shifts from satirical and humorous to alarming, melodramatic and tragic. It is written with consummate skills and wit. I particularly like the new spins Huxley has given to words like “viviparous” and “pneumatic”. There are some experimental passages in Chapter 3 where the narrative intercuts back and forth between three different scenes occurring simultaneously, that took me by surprise a bit, I thought it was a printing error in the book until I looked up some information about this chapter online (plenty of online sources for analysis of this book).

Brave New World is an amazing book which should appeal to fans of "trending" dystopian fiction (in spite of the absence of teenagers falling in love), you have read the rest, now read the best. More importantly it makes you think about the moral and ethical issues implicit in the book. It also makes me want to reread [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313] which is a more grim and badass book.