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on 3 October 2005
After years of hearing people refer to Brave New World - both online and in real life - I decided to read it myself and find out just what all the commotion was about. Having done so, I will share my thoughts with you.
The story is set in a future society where humans are no longer born but instead grown from embryos in huge research labs. Years of trial and error has resulted in scientists being able to produce up to 15,000 individuals from a single embryo - all of which end up being twins. Immediately they are conditioned to think and feel and act in certain ways which make society what it should be - happy, stable, strong, and united. As they sleep they are played voice recordings which, to cut a long story short, programme them into what society wants them to be. One of the many recordings being "Everyone belongs to everyone else".
In a time when humans are made in batches, pyshcologically conditioned, mentally and physically matured in a fraction of the natural time, encouraged to participate in 'errotic play' from a young age, given 'soma' (a recreational drug) to cure lows, taught to throw out old/dirty/torn clothes and buy new ones, sheltered from dirt and disease, prevented from ever becoming pregnant, told that everyone belongs to everyone else (in effect everyone has sex with everyone without thinking twice as from a young age this is taught to be perfectly natural), given medicine so that you physically look like a 20 year old all your life until around the age of 50 when you drop dead, after hearing all this you are left with many questions. Questions like 'How could it ever work?', 'What would a society of clones be like?', 'Why on earth did they do it in the first place?', and 'Is everyone truly happy?'. Well, this book answers all these questions and many more, all the while introducing you to ideas you may never have come accross or thought too ridiculous to ponder over.
Furthermore, what would happen if someone from the 'old world' was given a chance to see this society? Would they accept the offer? What would they think of being called a 'Savage' just because they were born into a family with a mother and father, just because they weren't conditioned, just because they wasted their time reading books, just because they showed an emotion called love, just because they were like you and me.
Brave New World is one of the most fascinating books you will ever read and Huxley must've had a great mind to write such a masterpiece - and all in 230 pages.
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on 11 April 2009
Society really is getting more and more like this.

This is a vision of the future where the population is controlled by subtlety and manipulation, the basic premise being that if people are too doped up to realise that they have been conned by a tiny minority who have everything then that elite can remain in charge for ever.

In Huxley's world the method of control is to program people to indulge only their most transitory and materialistic desires all of which can be fulfilled quite readily and in doing so suppress any idea that there "might be more to life than this" and this leaves the population with happy but trivial lives.

The morality of this is questioned through the introduction of an outsider to the society and his actions form the basis of the plot. To be honest I think the story isn't as involving as the world it is set in but the questions the book raised easily merit this book classic status.

It seems we are getting closer and closer to the kind of happy trivial life that Huxley forced upon his population and if you are inclined to wonder whether or not there is more to life than work and shopping then this book is probably going to be right up your street.
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on 18 September 2000
Brave New World tells the story of a future time when society and everyone's fate is engineered by advanced technology and brain washing. The aim of this brave new world is to ensure that everyone is happy, and as a matter of fact, this aim is almost perfectly achieved. It portrays a world where humans have mastered the necessarily technology to play God, and this technology is used to achieve happiness at the expense of freedom, individuality, and several other basic human rights. This price is so high that for most readers these people have lost most of their humanity, the characteristics that make us human. I think that Brave New World is a must read. It expresses the believe, or the possibility, that technology and progress may in future damage the human race beyond repair. I also find it amazing that this book was written in the early thirties, before the space age, before computers, before genetic engineering, before nuclear weapons, well when we were much more distant than we are now at being able to play God. Unfortunately, the plot and the characters could have been a little bit more interesting, or perhaps no one can be interesting in this brave new world.
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on 4 July 2007
I read this book shortly after reading 1984 - having heard them being compared - and it definitely provided a good contrast. While Orwell's vision is dark, gloomy, filled with hate and despair, Huxley's world could almost be seen as a Utopian fantasy.

There is an overwhelming sense of comfort and "happiness" within society that is brought about through two important things: recreational drugs and psychological conditioning. Death, relationships, class differences and work do not provide worry. This is in fact what makes Huxley's work so brilliant: it portrays a Dystopia that operates so perfectly that it is disquieting rather than frightening. Because society does indeed work for the good of everyone in a hedonistic sense, the logic behind the system can only be challenged by pure human instinct, as voiced by the central character in the book: "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."

However, although the book brings up excellent questions regarding totalitarianism, and freedom of thought, it is somewhat lacking in story. The characters are very hard to empathise with and although the book starts with a central character, Bernard Marx, the focus shifts then to John ("the Savage"), leaving you with a sense that the novel is written for description rather than story-telling. The reader is able to get a very good mental grasp on the problems within society, but since the story isn't gripping, you finish the book feeling very detached from the characters and the world they live in.
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on 4 September 2003
Five hundred or so years into the future, and the our very existence as human beings has been taken control by the World Controllers. The primary goal of this dystopian situation is to create a global happiness, a mutual harmony between all humans. But all humans are no longer equal, depending on birth process defined by the controller, Alphas are at the top, intellectually superior in everyway, followed by Betas, all the way down to Episilons who are produced in large bundles, human mass production. That covers the main situation, although their are many other factors and conditions in this new world.
The first part of the book follows Bernard Marx, a slightly irregular Alpha plus human. This is where the conflict against conformity arises, as he starts to behave more like an individual. The second part of the book introduces John Savage, the son of a woman from the Dystopian society, but brought up amongst indians in the savage reservation. John acts as an individual caught between two cultures, conditioned by his mother, but aware of freedom through the local indians in the puebla.
Brave New World is one of Huxley's great masterpieces, much ahead of his time in thought and literary creativity. It raises some serious questions about the way the world was heading at the time, published a few years before the Second World War, a time of scientific breakthrough and experimentation, beginning of mass consumption. The work is comparable to Yevgeny Zamyatin's famous novel, We, also about a dystopian society, but written just over ten years before Brave New World, obviously another novel with a similar theme is Orwell's classic 1984, which all make very enjoyable reads.
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2007
Aldous Huxley was born in England in 1894 and saw his first novel - "Crome Yellow" published in 1921. He is best known for his anti-utopian novel "Brave New World", which was first published in 1932.

"Brave New World" set in the year 632 AF - 632 years after the first Model T Ford has rolled off the production lines. (Henry Ford has, it would seem, become the world's main deity, and the "Sign of the T" is commonplace). The 'civilised world' has become a radically different place - although everyone is, technically, happy it's cost a certain amount of 'free will'. The family unit no longer exists, with children now being created in a laboratory. Since the overwhelming majority of women are 'created' sterile, the entire population's physical and intellectual development can be carefully controlled from conception. This level of control ensure that - with only very few exceptions - people are happy fulfilling their pre-determined role in society. (Members of the 'Epsilon Minus' class are bred for menial labour, while - at the other end of the scale - members of the 'Alpha Plus' class are bred for their intelligence). Promiscuous sex and recreational drug use is encouraged, and only a deviant would consider abstaining from either. Similarly, spending time alone is considered abnormal, while monogamy is practically a perversion. One of the book's key characters is Bernard Marx - an Alpha-Plus, who has some rather dubious tendencies. He's planning on taking a rather unusual trip to a "Savage Reservation" : in these places, the primitives who live there have children and raise families in the time honoured fashion. They also grow old and don't consider cleanliness to be "next to fordliness".

I've slightly mixed feelings about "Brave New World". I was a little disappointed - though, with the constant comparisons to "1984", I think my expectations of it were maybe a little off. The elements of the book dealing with indoctrination, conditioning and bio-engineering are certainly relevant to today's world - however, the book just didn't make the impact it could have. Part of the problem, for me, was that the book's focus shifted so often from one character to another - next to Winston Smith, the characters that appeared here were a little flimsy. Similarly, I didn't find Huxley's Brave New World quite inspiring the same depth of feeling as Orwell's Oceania. Nevertheless, it's certainly worth reading, and I can see why it's so highly thought of.
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Aldous Huxley's brave new world screams a claustphobic future of a society that has diluted human life to a robotic souless existence. He seems to be seeking to warn us against scientific utopianism, which is a little too successful. This novel is a very important novel, which should be read at some point by everyone. It oulines a potential (perhaps exaggerated and paranoid) future which may await us if we are not careful. It is in a style that is easily read, making it suitable to everyone. I do believe that this is a book for the masses. Please go out and buy a copy.
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on 8 June 1999
Aldous Huxleys', 'Brave New World,' is a grim look into a future where science controls all. Human beings are, 'conditioned,' to create a stable society where free thought is corrupted from birth. Huxleys' political wit and vivid characterisation sustain the novel at a pace that doesn't dazzle but allows the reader time to contemplate the many issues the text cannot fail to provoke. If you take on, 'Brave New World,' you have to be prepared to spend hours reconsidering your own views on science, religion, freedom and the multitude of other issues that the novel provokes, just remember to stir the soup while your lost in thought. Huxley never hands you the answers on a plate; the novel is entirely two-sided, perhaps written with a slight sense of ambivalence by Huxley toward his subject. Huxley has created a novel which decades after it's first edition is still essential reading and current, it tackles issues of genetic modification, cloning and totalitarianism, while managing to avoid the pitfall of being too scientific or political. If, like me, you enjoyed, Orwells' 1984 you must, must read this, it's far better. Afterwards read, ' The Island,' which gives a contrasting account of Huxleys' vision of a true Utopia, and 'The Doors of Perception.' The only reason I can't call the novel inspirational is because that's what everybody says about it. I shall call it genius.
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on 28 February 2005
Brave New World is one of the landmark books of the twentieth century, now widely regarded as a classic. Like many, I first read this book at school (for O-level) many years ago; it is a tribute to the power to the book that even after that experience I still hold it in high regard.
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's distopian (not utopian) vision of the future (the far future when he originally wrote the book, although it seems much closer now). As such it blends together science fiction and social commentary.
Huxley's future is one of universal happiness although it is a facile, passionless happiness. Children are created on a production line with their social status (denoted by Greek letters) predetermined; this social status is then reinforced through chemicals and conditioning (in their sleep). Happiness is maintained chemically (mainly through a drug called soma) and by allowing the people to lead largely responsibility free lives devoted to pleasure, principally sex. Physical perfection is the norm, nobody reads (or thinks), religion has disappeared (God manifests himself by his absence), and there is no conflict: it is a global society of peace, harmony and happiness for all.
Into this world Huxley introduces his principle protagonist - John the Savage - a young man raised outside of this society. John is self-educated, largely through reading the works of Shakespeare. The book examines John's impact on this society (minimal) and its impact on him (huge and inevitably tragic).
Huxley writes well and creates a compelling book describing a society that fascinates and repels. However, the book is not without problems - the characters have no depth (because they really do have no depth). John is an unrealistic, unconvincing character, he is only there to generate conflict. I suspect the passage of time has been unkind in this respect - we struggle to empathise with John, as his attitudes no longer reflect those of the reader. Huxley is not interested in people; he is interested in exploring the society. He does this effectively and entertainingly but this is not a character led story.
Brave New World is often bracketed with 1984. This is a difficult comparison for Brave New World as Orwell is a better writer and 1984 is a much better book with a more complete and better-realised vision of the future. For much of the twentieth century 1984 also seemed to be a more accurate & realistic vision of the future but in my opinion that has changed. Today, the scenario envisaged by Brave New World seems quite prescient and much more likely - at least in the sense that happiness will be used to control society (at the expense of freedom).
A great book and well worth reading - highly recommended
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on 20 January 2004
Upon hearing that Brave New World had been awarded a place in the BBC's Top One-Hundred Books list, I decided to give it a read. I must admit however, that I had some reservations about the novel, since the scientific explanations and extensive technological procedures contained within the story are so frequently referred to. Perhaps this could have been tedious if the book had been lengthier, but as it covers around two hundred and fifty pages it was not at all tiresome - it was fascinating.
Huxley begins the novel by explaining the caste system: "We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Epsilons or Alphas, as future sewage workers or future world controllers." The lower the caste, the less oxygen administered to the embryo - thus the Epsilons foetuses will receive far less oxygen than the Alphas and grow to be far less intelligent. The mental disabilities of the Epsilons allow them to perform the least desired jobs without questioning why, or desiring a more fulfilling life. The story follows two main characters, Bernard Marx (an Alpha plus male) and John (a 'savage,' who is part of a Native American tribe with Christian beliefs, and therefore grew up without the conditioning or clinical living of the majority of people in Huxley's future). Because the two are as different as can be, the way in which the two men cope with their strange lives makes for enthralling reading.
John, the savage, often quotes Shakespeare and this is where the title of Brave New World originates (Miranda's reunion with her family in Act V of The Tempest). Should inhabitants become unhappy or dissatisfied, an anti-depressant known as 'Soma' is regularly handed out to all. Within the dystopian society, marriage and child bearing no longer exist. In fact, the latter is a taboo subject: “The word…‘father’ with its connotation of something at one remove from the loathsomeness and moral obliquity of childbearing – merely gross, a scatological rather than pornographic impropriety.”
Although many people believe Brave New World to touch upon the subject of genetic engineering, this is not quite true: The novel was written in 1932 - twenty years before the structure of DNA was discovered by Crick and Watson. Still, procedures such as hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching) and cloning have accelerated rapidly since the book's publication, and Huxley was quoted in 'Brave New World Revisited' (a collection of essays exploring the themes of his novel) as saying, 'I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing Brave New World. The prophecies made in 1931 are coming true much sooner than I thought they would.' It has been said many times before, but Brave New World is a groundbreaking novel, written way ahead of its time. Read it and judge for yourself.
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