Blogs 'N' Sods #4: Aldous Huxley, Alice Walker and Daddy's Roommate

“Everyone belongs to everyone else.”

 This book is a classic science fiction novel in the truest sense of the phrase.

 The image here is the famous first edition cover of Aldous Huxley’s first novel, Brave New World. (You can even get it as a T-shirt, just to illustrate how popular it is.) The novel has a story ripped off and adapted so many times it is a shame that few today have ready this truly riveting book.

Considered by some to be one of the first true dystopian novels (Zamyatin’s We did come earlier), BNW‘s premise is strangely similar to the film The Matrix: people are manufactured, not born. They are given chemicals regularly and freely to keep them sedate, and everything is predetermined from birth to death. People serve one purpose, which is to serve the state in whatever capacity is deemed necessary to keeping the system going.

The protagonist somehow finds enough free will to realize that something is inherently wrong with all of this. His journey takes him halfway across the globe, to more and more disappointing results.

 Sorry, no more Cliff Notes or plot spoilers here; go out and find an edition that works for you. This book is readily available at practically every library imaginable; it is also available as an audiobook narrated by Michael York (who starred in the film Logan’s Run) and available free online at Classic Reader at the link here.

After this, search out 1984 by Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, I, Robot by Asimov, Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Dick (which became The Blade Runner) and Oryx and Crake by Atwood to further try and appease what will be easily become your new obsession. For fans of The Hunger Games series by Collins, you will not be disappointed.

 Some unusual facts about Huxley and one truly bizarre internet rumor:

  • FACT: Huxley narrated this book as a play for the BBC. It was released as an album, with Bernard Herrman (PsychoVertigo and numerous other Hitchcock films) providing the score.

  • FACT: He died on 22 November 1963, the same day as U.S. president John F. Kennedy and British author C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia).

  • FACT: Some time after Brave New World, Huxley wrote a novel called The Doors of Perception, written about his experiences with psychedelic drugs. Los Angeles rock band the Doors took their name from this book. Incidentally, Huxley lived primarily in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death.

  • FACT: Huxley was routinely denied U.S. citizenship, even though he applied several times. A pacifist, he refused to take an oath to take arms again enemies of the U.S. government, which was part of the process at the time.

  • FACT: Huxley was a long time friend of composer Igor Stravinsky (The Firebird). Stravinsky dedicated his last orchestral composition to Huxley’s memory.

  • FACT: The American Library Association lists Brave New World at number 52 on its “100 Most Challenged Books” from 1990-2000. Placing higher were titles such as The Color Purple by Walker, Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck and Daddy’s Roommate by Willhoite.

  • RUMOUR: In spite of Huxley’s connection to the Doors and JFK, Oliver Stone is not set to direct a film version of Brave New World; Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) is. Now there’s a conspiracy theory for you…

Love to you all.

Ben Bear

originally published on 27 August 2014

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