Brave New World and the Last Man

Book review of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley with reference to Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Frederick Nietzsche and 1984 by George Orwell.

In 1984, the world is ruled by a totalitarian, self-perpetuating system that brutalizes its own upper echelons most of all.  In Brave New World, Huxley paints a different picture of the future, one where human interactions are mandatorily shallow, where casual sex is expected, and where bad feelings have mostly been bred and conditioned out of the docile, fun-loving population.

It is too easy to make fun of science fiction that is already out of date.  There are anachronisms such as scientists taking notes with pencil and paper, manual laborers who are still required in large numbers, liftmen (elevator operators), and English women who are slim and attractive.

But good science fiction aims to comment, not to predict, because the latter is impossible.  Huxley envisions what some of his contemporaries might have considered an ideal society: one where the family has been done away with, children are born in test tubes and raised in nurseries, trained from infancy to enjoy their assigned roles in society, and kept happy throughout their lives by generously provided rations of the feel-good drug soma.

Bernard Marx (yes, I yawned too) doesn’t fit in.  He doesn’t want to be happy all the time.  He wants to Read More