Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Hardcover, 1974

Status

Available

Publication

Heritage Press (1974)

Description

Huxley's classic prophetic novel describes the socialized horrors of a futuristic utopia devoid of individual freedom.

User reviews

LibraryThing member baswood
Community Identity Stability
No leisure from pleasure
Was and will make me ill
Ending is better than mending
When the individual feels the community reels

Just some of the slogans from Huxley’s dystopian consumer society, from his Brave New World. Written in 1931 it was a huge leap forward from earlier classics by Jules Verne and H G Wells, whose science fiction had been firmly set at the time when their books were written and featured the adventures of a heroic figure battling against the odds. Huxley imagines a world 600 years into the future, where the science of genetics had given the rulers the power to shape human beings into workers and consumers at the expense of freedom, truth, individuality, privacy and knowledge. In some ways a seductive society where in Mustapha Mond’s view ‘People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get’.

Huxley became passionate about how he saw the world developing, so much so that nearly 30 years later he published a non fiction book entitled “Brave New World Revisited,” where he took stock of developments since he had written Brave New World to see if society was heading towards the dystopia that he had imagined. It will be of no surprise to find that not only did he think he had been on the right track, but also he thought in 1958 that developments had speeded up to such an extent that his dystopia would arrive much sooner than the 600 years he had predicted. In my penguin modern classics edition there is a forward by Huxley written in 1946. He says the need for efficiency and stability had already pointed the way to the nightmare Utopia of Brave New World, which he now predicts would be upon us within 100 years, so therefore by 2046.

The breakthrough for Huxley’s Brave New World is man’s almost total control of genetics and behavioural science with the ability to produce humans from test tubes that can then be adapted and moulded to carry out all the necessary tasks for societies needs. Fittingly the first two chapters are in effect a guided tour around the “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” and we meet some of the characters that will feature in the story. An entertainment industry and an official drug culture is all that is required to produce a stable, safe and happy world for the humans designed to live and work in it. - Utopia perhaps.

Huxley’s novel is not just an exercise in world building there is a good story involving characters that do not quite fit into the society. They coalesce around John: a savage brought from one of the tribal reservations into the Brave New World. It is their fate when they challenge the cultural norms that provide the momentum for the plot. Huxley gets to tackle some big themes here; a world based on sexual gratification, rather than love, the total breakdown of the family unit, absence of religion, loss of freedom, totalitarianism, the misuse of science and the nature of civilization.

This is a literary novel that has used science fiction to express the fears for a civilization that had barely emerged intact from World War I. The writing is imaginative and modern: an excellent example is the short intercutting paragraphs and sentences in chapter 3, that hammer out the theme of a world where the individual has no importance and no privacy. The title Brave New World comes from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest and Huxley interweaves lines from the Bard into his text to examine the inevitable loss of culture, in the face of an all pervading entertainment industry, that has no place for invention and originality. This is brilliantly done.

This novel is just as relevant today as it was in 1931 and in some respects Huxley’s fears are well founded. A burgeoning entertainment industry linked to a society where consumerism is paramount and where global corporations increasingly control our lives is a start that could lead us all into that Brave New World or something very like it. Huxley has written a book that is imaginative, sexy, and thought provoking.

Just play those sexophones, get out of those zippicaminicks and pass the soma: 5 stars… (more)
LibraryThing member Jakeofalltrades
This book, although it has a wealth of ideas and prophetic warnings about society and the science used to shape it, it is poorly written stylistically. But then again, it's still an important, but depressing book. I say depressing because it wakes you up to how much of a consumerist and self centered culture that we live in. Even Huxley wrote in the foreword to this that he was not satisfied with how he wrote it, but I think he is right in saying that if he changed it, it would have to be re-written entirely. As an LT Author, I know what he means when he says that. He means that sometimes, when you write a story in your career, you grow older, look back, and say "I could have done it better", however you also know that if you re-wrote it with the experience you have later in your life, the meaning would change entirely.

This serves as a historic, satirical time capsule of Huxley's changing world in the 1930s, totalitarian governments like Fascism and Communism were rising, but the Capitalists were lording it over the poor, just like the dictators were. Huxley mixes these three systems together to create a unique vision of a hell created not by Satan, long abolished by the anti-religious leaders of the World State, but created by Humanity's unquestioning trust that science for the sake of science will improve existence on Earth.

It's as relevant as it is dull to read. And as it is very dull indeed, you could safely say by this measure that it's very relevant. To be read for education and philosophy, not for pleasure. If you want a pleasure reading book, look elsewhere to the consumerist "bestseller" trash, ignoring the entire point of this very important book.
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LibraryThing member RebeccaAnn
My God, what a bore! I've been trying to get through this book for a couple months now and I'm finally calling it quits. From the amount of good reviews this book has gotten, it appears I'm in the minority when I say I think watching paint dry might be more entertaining. I was listening to this on audiobook and every time I put it on, I found myself wanting to take it off five minutes later. I can see why this book attained "classic" status. It had some interesting takes on where consumerism and genetic modification are heading but the book was just missing...something. I'm not exactly sure what that something even was. Sympathetic characters? A viable plot? A protagonist? A world I could dive into and just get lost in? I feel as if these books achieved these points, but only to the halfway point. I see the hints of all these points which for me are absolute necessities for a good book but it just didn't actually have them. I didn't like the world. John annoyed me. So did everyone else. The plot was too slow. The whole thing was just one big mess of a book.

So in short, I guess I understand why this book is considered good but for me, it just didn't make the cut. And I found out from a friend how it ends. Very anti-climatic. I have no desire whatsoever to finish this book so I'm declaring it abandoned.
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LibraryThing member dakobstah
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I was blown away by the amount of foresight that Huxley possessed. He was able to see not only futuristic scientific possibilities such as helicopters, genetically constructed humans, and something akin to anti-depressants but he was also able to see futuristic social changes stirring such as the sexual revolution and Collectivism.

Since this is a review I won't give away some of the plot twists that occur at the end but they still keep me up in the air when I try to define this is a Utopian or Dystopian novels. I think its classification really depends on the reader's point of view. Even though Huxley does seem to be arguing for Individualism the Collectivist society that he has rendered on page is a sympathetic show-stealer that is not unlike Milton's Satan in "Paradise Lost."
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LibraryThing member krau0098
It's hard to believe this book was written in 1931, Huxley is awfully accurate on some of his futuristic visions of how society could end up.

This book basically describes a society that appears to be Utopian at first glance. Humans are made at certain genetic intelligence and caste; they are conditioned to be grateful for their place in life. Of course humans being humans there are occasionally those who divert from the norm. The story focuses mainly on Bernard Marx, an Alpha who is born too short, and as such ostracized and isolated in a society based on community and on Lenina a woman who is a fairly average society girl who agrees to travel with Bernard to Reservation. At the reservation they meet a Savage named John who travels back with them to "proper" society. What ensues is basically disaster.

The kind of creepy thing is that Huxley is pretty spot on about some of the things in his Utopian society. There is a lot genetic engineering going on, subliminal messaging, regulated drug use to promote serenity, etc. The beginning of the book is the most shocking because they explain how they modify the chemical make up of the fetuses to make them smart or stupid, strong or weak. This is followed by a discussion of how they condition the infants to like or not like certain things based on what function they will have in society. It is a society where everyone is equal but no one gets to make any decisions.

The people in the society are encouraged to be somewhat infantile in their decisions; time not working is spend playing games or engaging in sexual activity. Despite the society being depicted as somewhat British the members are encouraged to give into their baser natures whenever they want...emotion makes for unhappy people so it is best to not think about it too much.

What happens when John, a Savage raised by a (gasp) mother, a man who loves and hurts is brought into this society is fascinating but predictable. He has a hard time making sense of a society where "mother" is an indecent word and love is a foreign concept.

The book is very readable and well-written. The story is engaging. I am sure at the time this book was written it was ground-breaking. Unfortunately most of the factors of society that are discussed in this book I have read discussed in more current books. For me what set this book apart from other dystopians was the fact that it was written so long ago, also the fact that Huxley didn't pull any punches on the human conditioning...they are pretty ruthless, and lastly how reasonable he makes the set-up of such a society sound. There is a portion towards the end of the book where the Controller explains to John how their society evolved to what it is today; the Controller explains what they tried and what actually worked. The Controller's argument sounds disturbingly reasonable and almost makes you understand how a society set-up like the one in this book might work out well for a large amount of people.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I am glad I read it. None of the ideas really blew me away and the story was engaging, but not absolutely incredible. It is a book that makes you think; especially when think of the time frame in which it was written. The topics discussed are something which will make you take pause but some of the ideas presented aren't that far away from where we are today (genetic engineering, etc.). Definitely something to read and something easy to relate to.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
First I have to say that Michael York did a tremendous job. I’ve seen some of his films, but not enough to understand what a good actor he really is. It comes through intensely in this audiobook. Very good characterizations and the creepy programming voice were perfect. Well done. I don’t know if it was the words or York’s hypnotic delivery but the Controller Mond’s side of the conversation with John ‘the Savage’ at the end of the book almost had me convinced that ignorance and conditioning could be the answer to humanity’s suffering.

The story had its moments, but was very uneven. Parts of it were taken up with philosophical diatribes and debates that detracted from the pacing and I grew so disinterested that I stopped listening for a while. It was very clear that Huxley wasn’t writing this to entertain while getting people thinking, but to serve as a platform for his rhetoric. He ground that axe good.

When the story was chugging along smoothly it was a good one though. The ending was especially painful. I guess even conditioning and Soma cannot rid the human race of the need to humiliate, punish and consume violence. John’s disillusionment with the society he heard so much about was palpable. The controller’s needlessly cruel treatment of him in not wanting to discontinue his ‘experiment’ was astonishing. I guess he couldn’t leave real science behind after all.

The vision of the future and the technology not yet invented is fun and eerily accurate. The proliferation of psyche drugs to normalize all kinds of behavior is so akin to Soma that if someone doesn’t want to go on Zoloft or Wellbutrin it is shocking and somehow shameful. The quickness to diagnose someone as mentally deficient in some way and patch it with drugs is astonishing. Sameness is good, difference is bad. The pre-pubescent sexualization of kids was particularly disturbing both in and of itself and in its intent. That and the destruction and removal of the parent / child relationship along with any other familial ties were the aspects I found most difficult to grasp. Virtually all of our societies have been founded on individual relationships within a family group and imagining them entirely gone was difficult. Imagining them as taboo and smut was even harder.

Let’s not forget about the compulsory consumption. The precarious situation of the US economy which is consumer spending driven has been much under the spotlight lately. We’ve been all but told that to stop consuming is unpatriotic and we should continue to spend spend spend so as not to further upset the economy. Retailers run at a loss until Christmas most of the time. That can’t be a good way to run a business. Shelf life of everything from books to perfume to TV shows is shorter and shorter every year. Craving the new is even more desired and encouraged. Everything is disposable now – just throw it away and buy a new one! I’m ashamed of how these things are so ingrained on my sub consciousness so that I act just like everyone else even though I know it is not healthy. These parallels were the most interesting things in the novel to me and I really hope that the orgy thing isn’t next on the list.
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LibraryThing member julie10reads
If you haven't already read Brave New World or if you had to read it in school, then please take my advice: listen to it. Just the choice of accent for each character explains much of Huxley's subtext; repetition of key themes is more obvious and the disjointed, anonymous conversations become clear. In short, it's a fascinating, thought-provoking experience.

You don't need me to tell you how scarily prescient Huxley was. Published in 1932, Brave New World describes in vitro fertilization, surrogate wombs (bottles) and wireless technology. The three pillars of this worldwide society are community, identity and stability. These are secured through biological and moral conditioning, the extirpation of the family unit (sex is reserved for recreational purposes only) and religion (although there are worship ceremonies which end in a sexual frenzy) and censorship of science and literature. God is replaced by "Our Ford" and the Christian cross has become a "T". Any unpleasant feelings are immediately dispelled by a side-effect free drug, soma, that gives the user a virtual mini-vacation.

What's really scary about this brave new society:nobody reads! Other than the biography of Our Ford, no other book is mentioned. Marshal McLuhan once said that when the missionaries first went to Africa they taught the people to read--not so they could read the Bible--but because once they read, they stopped identifying with the group/tribe and became individuals. To ensure the populace identifies only with the "community", there are no solitary pass times. In Brave New World, entertainment means flying somewhere after work for a dance or golf or a meal or going to the "feelies". These are movies that allow the audience to actually feel what's happening on screen. For example, if the actors kiss, the viewers' lips tingle. You may laugh, but see how the Controller Mustapha Mond explains the reasoning behind this:

"But that's the price we have to pay for stability. You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've sacrificed the high art. We have the feelies and the scent organ instead."

"But they don't mean anything."

"They mean themselves; they mean a lot of agreeable sensations to the audience."

I had just seen and thoroughly enjoyed Mission Impossible !V: Ghost Protocol when I read this. "A lot of agreeable sensations to the audience" brought a blush to my guilty cheeks!

The second and third last chapters read like a Socratic dialogue between the Controller and John Savage, a man born and raised on a Zuni reservation and therefore not at all properly "conditioned". I listened to them several times. Mond's philosophy is so persuasive that I forgot that he was actually describing a dystopia!

Brave New World can't be adequately described in a little review like this. If you've been following this blog you've read the quotations from it I've posted. "Words can be like x-rays" got almost 100 hits! It reaches out to the reader through diverse subjects: religion (lack of), industrialism, literature, art, suffering, evolution, history (as in Ford's famous aphorism "history is bunk"), science.

Science fiction is inevitably a reflection of the time of its origin. Yet Brave New World is not a period piece. Some aspects can be detected in our own time. Could it ever happen: a society where Shakespeare is banned and The Gorilla's Honeymoon is the current blockbuster movie?

10 out 10 Recommended to readers who enjoy literary fiction and wish to deepen their understanding of life.
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LibraryThing member TheAmpersand
When I read this one in high school, I think I got what most readers come away with: a story of a sympathetic, insightful man trapped in a dystopia where pleasure and instant gratification rule. Now I've sat through a few college-level lit courses, I was surprised by how many thematic similarities "Brave New World" shares with some of the big-name Modernists (Woolf, Joyce, Lawrence) that were writing at about the same time. Huxley's concerned about the potentially negative effects of mass production and mass media, but what he's really worried about is that these methods of social control might obliterate man's unconscious, the place where so much great art is born. The point isn't just that the residents of our Brave New World are controlled --though they are -- it's that their very selves are overwhelmed.

Huxley's book, then, can be read not as a prophecy but as the product of the the author's own misgivings about an evolving modern world. In a sense, I can't help but feel that some of this arises from a certain class anxiety on the author's part. While genetic engineering and sleep conditioning are portrayed very unfavorably, as they physically limit the quality of human emotion and response, many of the things that Huxley fears -- from new technologies to urbanization to the dumbing down of classic literature to music drawn from other cultures and racial and cultural micenegation -- seem to reflect the traditional fears of the British upper class. I'm willing to forgive him this, partly because the future he's concoted here is so delightfully weird and peculiarly British. There are assembly lines, but no computers, lots of rayon, and helicopters everywhere. Not all's bad in Huxley's future, of course: there's "synthetic" jazz that just might be the best techno records never recorded, really, really, good drugs, sex-hormone chewing gum, and, well, lots of chances to get it on with a willing Gamma or two. Say what you will about Huxley's writing style, which can be a bit long on exposition, this is a singular vision of mankind's future.
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LibraryThing member Eliya
The idea itself aside - the book is horribly written. It's almost as if the author believed that the dystopian theme would be enough to shock the reader and thus make him ignore the writing itself. It's not enough to have the best story - a good writer is the one who knows how to tell it, but unfortunately this is not the case.… (more)
LibraryThing member wvlibrarydude
The plot, characters and writing didn't wow me, but the premise of the story and some of the discussions really blew my mind. Is this a plausible future? Not really. I have too much belief in the random crap that floats along to ruin the construction of any "utopia" like this. Is it something mankind would try to create? Possibly. Definitely worth the read.… (more)
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Brave New World is one of those classics seemingly everyone has read, if only because it has been among the leading books banned by libraries and schools since it was first published in 1932. However, in a case of not learning from what one reads, there are enough similarities between Huxley's envisioned "utopia" and today's world that are downright frightening. Huxley's world is just as relevant, maybe even more so, today than it was eighty years ago. That is just plain scary.

Either Huxley was a genius or life truly does imitate art because there is so much in Brave New World that hits too close to home. As this was a book club selection, the first thing that people noticed was the focus on instantaneous gratification. In Huxley's world, waiting four hours for something is a travesty. Sound familiar? In this day and age of instant news coverage, ordering everything possible online, FedEx and next-day delivery, text messages, chat rooms, social media, and everything else, we are quickly becoming a society that is disgusted by news taking more than a few minutes to be verified, by packages that take more than a day to arrive, by food we actually have to take the time to cook or wait for someone else to prepare. Huxley's commentary on this fixation is better suited now than when he first envisioned this dystopian future and is almost depressing to behold.

It does not take a huge stretch of the imagination for readers to be able to recognize more than a few bits and pieces of today's society in Huxley's fictional one. The focus on technology and idolization of mass production is another aspect that hits a little too close to home, except in today's age, we could be worshipping Our Jobs instead of Our Ford. Feelies and the scent organ are similar to the 3-D and even 4-D movies that are in abundance these days, with feelies all-too similar to haptic game controllers and keyboards. As for soma, is there any doubt how popular such a drug would become, especially if it were legally sanctioned and provided no hangover? These similarities are the most chilling aspects of Brave New World.

It is so easy for a reader to get caught up in Huxley's world without paying attention to the message he is trying to make about what one sacrifices in order to create and live in such a world. There is plenty of food for fodder when one is able to set aside the horror of this new world. Bernard's and Helmholtz's inability to conform are indications that all is not well, while John's inability to cope with his new surroundings is the most blatant reminder of all that was lost to make the new and improved. The sterilization of the world diminishes the true nature of humanity, and everything for which humans have worked over the past centuries is naught.

Psychology, sociology, technology, and a healthy dose of imagination all combine to create the chilling image of a future society in which there is no religion, no family, no messiness, and no fuss. Its warnings are more true today than Huxley could ever have imagined. Therein lies the power of Brave New World.
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LibraryThing member kindergirl
Disappointng...I expected more. I had a pretty high expectation of this because it is on every "to read" list out there, and the reviews are usually really hish for it. I was bored for a large part of the novel, and was really only really surprised and interested in the first few chapters when the "civilized" society is first explained. I suppose that for a novel written in the 1930s, it deserves the aclaim for the originality of its ideas and the suggestion of cloning LONG before it became a reality. I also imagine the sexuality of the people in the novel was especially shocking to readers of the novel when it was first published. I'm glad I read it, but it's not one I will likely read again and again.… (more)
LibraryThing member Devil_llama
Although most people cite Orwell's 1984 as an allegory for what's going on today, Huxley nailed it much more closely with his classic work in which the take over is not by force, but by pleasure. Give the people what they want, give them happiness or the illusion of it, and they'll let you get away with anything. A truly frightening picture of a dystopic future that in some ways resembles our own, though much more pronounced.… (more)
LibraryThing member gbill
In Brave New World, Huxley writes of a dystopian future in which the government controls the population through genetics and drugs in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Gone are not only lofty ideals such as freedom, love, and culture, but also the underlying desire for those things. Babies are created in test tubes and bred to be able to have sex early in childhood; recreational sex and promiscuity reign. The Shakespeare-quoting outsider John “the Savage” visits and questions the morality of this system. He falls in love with Lenina but rebuffs her sexual advances, and then later attempts to stir a revolt in the lower castes of the population.

I recall loving this novel for how far ahead of its time it was, as it was written in 1931, certainly before the time of test tube babies, but also before the rise of Hitler and Stalin and the horrors of totalitarian governments. Ironically, though, it was disdain for America that apparently served as the impetus for the book. Huxley had visited America and found it overly materialistic and sexually loose. Henry Ford, champion of mass production at the time, is satirized as God in the book, e.g. the year is A.F. 632, After Ford, and his name is often used instead of God. Perhaps that seems a little silly or conservative (imagine his reaction to the 1960’s, or today’s consumer electronics age), however, while controlling the population’s gene pool via the outright genocide of the Holocaust had not occurred yet, the eugenics movement was active worldwide, and frightening.

Quotes:
On happiness:
“He remained obstinately gloomy the whole afternoon; wouldn't talk to Lenina's friends (of whom they met dozens in the ice-cream soma bar between the wrestling bouts); and in spite of his misery absolutely refused to take the half-gramme raspberry sundae which she pressed upon him. ‘I'd rather be myself,’ he said. ‘Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.’”

And:
“The Savage shook his head. ‘It all seems to me quite horrible.’
‘Of course it does. 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.’”
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LibraryThing member wildbill
This book is on many lists as a 20th century classic. The author portrays a chilling vision of the future where sex and drugs are promoted to achieve a programmed empty happiness for one and all. Huxley's vision of the future is chilling because it provides for happiness and stability two qualities highly sought after in the world today. The question raised by the book is whether or not achieving those goals is worth the price.
An important component of this future is the Bokanovsky process which creates series of Gamma, Delta and Epsilon twins, as many as eighty-six, from one egg whose fetal development is chemically retarded to equip them for the mundane tasks of industrial society. There are also Alphas and Betas who were developed as individuals for the more complicated jobs in society. All are subject to programming to make them enjoy their lot in life and eliminate ambition or envy.
The author uses two devices to contrast the goals and mechanisms of the Brave New World from the world we know. The first is the Savage, John. He comes from an Indian reservation but his father and mother came from the civilized world. He is brought from the reservation by Bernard Marx an Alpha who doesn't fit in and sees John as his entree into the circles of the influential. John provides the title of the book, a line from Shakespeare he read as a youth. John reacts strongly to the immorality he sees in this new civilization and rejects the quest for happiness without guilt.
There is also a meeting with John and Bernard Marx and Mustapha Mond, his Fordship. Mond carefully explains that all else in society is sacrificed for stability, security and contentment. He defends the system as meeting the needs of the human animal and providing what they really need in life.
After this meeting John leaves the world of civilization to seek his own path. A path that ends in tragedy.
By design there is a lack of real emotional relationships in the book. Those types of relationships are not part of the Brave New World.
The book is artfully written and brings to mind the saying, "Be careful about what you wish for, you may get it." It shows that the tragedy and pain of life are a necessary part of humanity. I enjoyed the book and the juxtaposition of ideals and how they can be achieved.
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LibraryThing member bethie-paige
I've had this book on my TBR for about 4 or 5 years now and I'm so glad I was finally able to pick it up. It was absolutely everything I thought it was going to be. I was so engrossed and literally couldn't put it down. Mindblowingly fantastic (in my opinion anyways).

Brave New World is about a society that is completely controlled from before birth and all the way through their lives with conditioning and scientific influence. All babies are born from test tubes and are "conditioned" (raised) in centres that assure that they will be perfect adults that fit into society absolutely. This is achieved through pre-determining their rank and how they will be conditioned such as are they going to be scientists or factory workers. They are then subjected to conditioning that moulds everyone to believe that they are living the perfect life. In my opinion this entire concept is what makes the book mind blowing because it is totalitarian to the point of dsytopian.

The portrayal of sex in the novel is another key point throughout this novel and I thought it was executed brilliantly. Sex is viewed differently from our perceptions; practically everyone just has sex and it is a form of entertainment. They start from an early age and no one marries or falls in love. They just have sex with someone a couple times then move onto the next one. This was so interesting to watch to play through.

Also the use of Soma (a drug that induces euphoria and in heavier doses, deep sleep periods called soma holidays) was incredibly well done. The citizens of this controlled world rely on the drug to get on with day to day life. It's controlled addiction.

The characters themselves didn't seem to be used as main plot points, except for John, the Savage, who is the contrast in the book, who attempts to prove that liberty and the happiness/pain that goes with it is superior to this controlled and conditioned civilisation. John serves as the reader's opinion on the aspects of the controlled environment because it is in our nature to view this sort of culture as disturbing and horrifying.

This book really brings about some important philosophical and ethical questions about whether it is right or wrong to condition (passively control) everyone to adapt to a set of ideals that brings about general happiness for everyone. It takes away our born right of freedom and liberality and forces us to be happy. What is the difference between forcing someone to be happy or sad when in the end you're still forcing someone to do something or think a certain way, when they have no actual choice? This book definitely induces these types of philosophical ponders.

Absolutely amazing premise and execution. Would recommend to pretty much everyone who doesn't mind a small amount of mind-fuckery.
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LibraryThing member rbiedry
The Brave New World is a futuristic place where "everybody" is happy. It is similar to Fahrenheit 451 in that independent thought and feelings have been banished. New forms of genetic engineering, brain washing and soma keep the population calm and carefree. The few advocates of freedom that do exist are faced with a dilemma, because the freedom they so desire includes the freedom to be unhappy. For that reason, many don't bother to fight a seemingly otiose battle. The main conflict arises when John, the "savage," arrives from the "savage" reservation in New Mexico. He doesn't understand society, and begins to ask why freedom is not permitted.

Basically what Huxley has done, is juxtapose two of history's main conflicts: security and freedom. In Huxley's Brave New World, led by ten world controllers, security (with the help of advanced technology) prevails. Huxley's story is a warning about what's at stake in the struggle.

Brave New World is an incredible novel, one that was earth-shattering for the time period it was written in. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although the ending left me wanting more. If you are looking for not just a quick read, but one that will keep you thinking weeks after you're finished, Brave New World is an excellent option.
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LibraryThing member aleahmarie
In this classic of dystopian literature, Aldous Huxley creates a horrifying world of perfect order and stability. The world order of the novel is precariously balanced on the somewhat misinterpreted ideals of Henry Ford and Sigmund Freud. From Ford this society has embraced a religious zeal for mass-production, from Freud an aversion of repressed desires and a belief that sexual promiscuity is the only civilized course of action. The population is highly controlled and have been conditioned to accept this way of life since they were embryos developing in test tubes. They live, work, and die in their particular caste level, distracted from any ill-feelings by readily available drugs and sexual freedom.

Quite preachy and without any discernible plot, the story failed to overwhelm me. But I can't deny that it was incredibly well written. Huxley was clearly displeased with the industrial revolution and Americanism in general. The American focus on youth, beauty, mass production and commercialism are taken to horrifying extremes in Huxley's vision. This is the novel that kicked off dystopian fiction, a must read for fans of the genre.
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LibraryThing member varwenea
Written in 1931, Brave New World is set in London of AD 2540 (632 A.F.—"After Ford", as in Henry Ford, the American industrialist) exploring the impacts of reproductive technology/control, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and mental conditioning on the society.

Post WWI, amidst the advent of industrial revolution, and at a time where there is a fear of Americanization in Europe (I think this is still ongoing throughout the world), Huxley had just visited America (San Francisco). He was disgusted with the youth culture, sexual promiscuity, commercial cheerfulness, and the book by Henry Ford “My Life and Work”. Huxley authored “Brave New World”, leveraging Shakespeare’s “Tempest” quotation. It’s truly revolutionary to think how his “disgust” (right or wrong, and heck, if only he saw the ‘60’s version of SF!!) generated this inventive book that is still relevant today and easily for decades to come.

After the “Nine Years War” with death, destruction, and anthrax bombs, the people is willing to give anything for a quiet life. A one sentence summary is trading truth and beauty for happiness and comfort. Out goes democracy, knowledge; in comes caste system, pre-conditioned thoughts and acceptance. The caste system created Alphas, Betas, followed by Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, the last of which are simply “stupid morons”. Deltas and Epsilons have been genetically split from a single egg creating copies of twins (8, 16, up to 96), while Alphas are always created from a single egg to be the elites of society. Not happy, pop one or more soma pills. Looking old? Never. Perfect balancing maintains youthfulness till the expiration age of 60.

The most difficult emotion to control is always, always love. In Huxley’s BNW, love is removed from accepted life by 1) making all births artificial, thereby eliminating familial love. Being called a father is a joke, while being called a mother is an obscenity. Viviparous is a dirty word. 2) By having a promiscuous society as being the norm, “Everyone belongs to everyone else.” No exclusivity, no monogamy, no loving one person only.

With these heavily-principled books, I have a dislike for the extensive verboseness that inevitably occurs to explain and to philosophize on the principles. Huxley was no different having spent two chapters elaborating his final thoughts, in case you still didn’t get it from the previous 15 chapters. :P

Nothing comes for free. “Happiness has got to be paid for”, said the Controller. There is a price for everything.

Quotes:

On Promiscuity – my eyebrow went up on all these:

Lenina: “Somehow, I hadn’t been feeling very keen on promiscuity lately…”
Fanny: “But one’s got to make the effort…”

Henry: “Lenina Crowne? Oh, she’s a splendid girl. Wonderfully pneumatic. I’m surprised you haven't had her.”
Assistant Pre-destinator: “I can’t think how it is I haven’t. I certainly will. At the first opportunity.”

Lenina: “But he’s the one I want.”
Fanny: “As though there weren’t millions of other men in the world.”
“But I don’t’ want them”
“How can you know till you’ve tried?”
”I have tried.”
“But how many? One, two?”
“Dozens. But it wasn’t any good.”
“Well, you must persevere…”
“…I shall always like him.”
“…why don’t you just go and take him. Whether he wants it or no.”

On Blissful Ignorance – yikes:
“Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel – and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’ve plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they out to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma. Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage. Liberty!” He laughed. "Expecting deltas to know what liberty is! And now expecting them to understand Othello! My good boy.”

On Happiness – yikes again:
“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.”

On God – I found these 7 simple words profound, considering how religion is regularly, conveniently twisted:
John, the Savage: “But God doesn’t change.”
Mustapha Mond, the Controller: “Men do, though.”
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LibraryThing member Valleyguy
I am of the opinion that there was indeed a little alcohol in Bernard's blood surrogate. What a loser :)
I haven't read this book in 15 years, this being my second reading. Thoroughly enjoyed it. What genius. What a treat to have meaning so masterfully debated. Yes, it is cool to learn about the technical things (how people are made), and learn about the world that Ford would have presumably built for us, but the real savory stuff is the perspective of civilization created throughout the story, and the debate at the end, between Jonathan and the world controller. I'm sure I will read this many more times.

There are a few things that date the book (besides the old sci-fi method of using flat characters to carry an idea along), such as the onesies and bell bottoms the people wear, but it was written in the thirties. I didn't even know they had bell bottoms back then.
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LibraryThing member evanplaice
A great read that takes a look into a possible model of what future societies may eventually become. Not only does the perspective seem alien to the present but it presents a sharp contrast to the reader to trigger a sense of revolt.

It reminds me specifically of the anecdote about the boiling frog and the quote, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." by Benjamin Franklin. If you read this and change the quote to, "Any society that would give up a little freedom to gain a little happiness will deserve neither and lose both."

Personally, it drove me to reflect on society in a critical light and question whether the minute gradual changes made to our societal beliefs are actually a form of subtle control. How much of it has been reinforced to the point where sensory adaptation kicks in and we are no longer aware of the what was lost over time. Ie, how much freedom are we willing to sacrifice to the masters of our societal structures in return for the premise/promise of eternal happiness.

At the very least this book represent a growing sense of subconscious dread among individuals in our society who take the time to look at the bigger picture. For instance, the in the United States we pay more taxes (percentage) today than the citizens of the same country who declared independence against Great Britain during the founding.

Fortunately, many of us humans have memories that span longer than a frog's.

My only regret about reading this is, I was forced to read this in High School English class where my teacher tirelessly attempted to dissect and genericise the meanings found in the book into some simplistic interpretation that everybody as a class could accept.

Similar works that have reminded me of this over the years include. Aeon Flux and THX 1138.
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LibraryThing member dkaul
Aldous Huxley creates a futuristic uptopian society in his novel Brave New World. In this world, clones are generated in labs and people are brainwashed to fit "perfectly" into society. Everyone is too dependent on drugs such as soma, and there is no free thought. When John the savage, a young boy who lives outside of said "brave new world" experiences it himself he is left distraught, confused, and disgusted. He learns that this utopia is actually and dystopia and is disappointed with their way of life, traditions, and beliefs.

I enjoyed reading this this novel, because it was amazing to see how Huxley's predicitions are not so far stretched anymore. Some ideas he came up with decades ago are starting to come true, and it is scary to think about what else could happen in the future. I would reccommend this book to anyone interested in a good science fiction book that gets you thinking.
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LibraryThing member drewandlori
This is probably the greatest dystopia novel ever written. It's reminiscent of Nineteen Eighty Four, only (as it turns out) far more accurate in a lot of its predictions. Huxley warns about the dangers that come from social and cultural control, rather than the political/military domination that so understandably terrified George Orwell. Huxley's image of the future is less grim and violent, but at least and depressing and soul-draining.… (more)
LibraryThing member goose114
I re-read this book for a graduate level course on drugs in society. Re-reading it really allowed me to understand the story in a whole new way.

The society that Huxley creates is one dependent on a hallucinogenic drug, soma. No one is able to function without soma to allow them to escape from the problems of everyday life. The government utilizes soma in order to keep the people unaware of the totalitarian regime that they are forced to live in. Only when an outsider is brought into this society are their actions questioned. This outsider is unable to understand this society and unable to change people’s ideas.

This is a wonderful dystopian story that illuminates the dangers of government control and medicalization.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
As a predictor of the future, this book takes a pessimistic view of human nature - that we value happiness and stability above all else. I think the human drive is more complex than that - but Huxley's imagining of the future is an interesting one. This book raises the question of what happiness is. Can you be truly happy if there are no contrasts? The poet can't seem to find any real poetry in his life experiences - there are no real highs and lows. The scientist can't pursue any real science without risking the stability that has been achieved at a societal level. It makes me wonder just exactly what this society existed for after all? And is innocence really an existence we want to pursue to the exclusion of knowledge?… (more)

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