Tag Archives: aldous huxley

REVIEW: IN OTHER WORDS: SF AND THE HUMAN IMAGINATION

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human ImaginationIn Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a neat little collection of Margaret Atwood’s history in the field of science fiction. It’s split into three parts:

1) Her thoughts on science (speculative?) fiction and the persistent problem of defining the genre; thoughts on how science fiction is a continuation of much older, mythological sorts of fiction; commentaries on her early life in rural Canada, what made her move into the field and inspired her to write the novels that marked her career.

2) Reviews, articles and talks she’s written and given over the years on seminal works and writers such as The Island of Dr Moreau and H. G. Wells, Nineteen Eighty-four, Animal Farm and George Orwell, Brave New World and Aldous Huxley, She and H. Rider Haggard, The Birthday of the World and Ursula K. Le Guin (her name is seriously pronounced “gwin”?) and others.

3) A selection of her own short stories, some of which I remembered from reading Bones and Murder some weeks ago.

Listening to this wise old lady speak of her long life and pose difficult questions about SF in general was very pleasing for the mind. I also found it quite revealing, and I’m hardly versed in her work. If you are more familiar with it than I, you know what to do.

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REVIEW: BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED

Brave New World Revisited Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You can read the book for free on Huxley.net but I recommend you read it either off-screen or not on a web page.

It’s been demonstrated time and time again that people who can come up with incredible, fictional worlds that have something tangible to say about our own, have the ability to do so exactly because they understand this Earth and universe so well. Huxley was no exception, and his addendum to Brave New World is a beautifully lucid account of where his original work, written 25 years previously, had failed to anticipate the great emerging forces that were threatening freedom as Huxley perceived them at the time. This list of the book’s chapters might give you some idea of what those threats were:

I Over-Population
II Quantity, Quality, Morality
III Over-Organization
IV Propaganda in a Democratic Society
V Propaganda Under a Dictatorship
VI The Arts of Selling
VII Brainwashing
VIII Chemical Persuasion
IX Subconscious Persuasion
X Hypnopaedia
XI Education for Freedom
XII What Can Be Done?

I’m incredibly curious what Huxley would have to say about our 21st century society and where his hopes would lie today – whether he’d still think that

“meanwhile there is still some freedom left in the world. Many young people, it is true, do not seem to value freedom. But some of us still believe that, with­out freedom, human beings cannot become fully hu­man and that freedom is therefore supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them. “

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