i found a piece about dystopias, mainly brave new world and 1984, called "everybody is happy now", written in the guardian (unlimited books) recently, by margret atwood. the title comes from brave new world, for those of you who hasn't read it. i think the piece is good, as it compares the novels with what we're seeing in todays world, to see if they "measure up" and to see which one of them says more about today's society. (so read it!)
just like atwood writes, both have points. orwell with the control and surveillance us citizens have to endure from the governments in more countries than not it seems and, post-9-11, thoughcrime; and huxley with the überconsumption and promiscuity we're indulging in as well as the issue of genetic engineering and prescribed drugs.
i've read them both. i read 1984 when i was 17 and i loved it. i am a bit reluctant to re-read it cos i know that i will find things i don't like in it now, and don't want to destroy what the novel has meant to me for more than 10 years in terms of political awakenings. after all, i have since then embraced feminism and i have read a lot of things since then that i've had problems with because i see gender everywhere. this is the case with brave new world.
i wrote a review of brave new world earlier this year. here it is.
the idea behind this novel is such a great one - really one of the best sci-fi ideas i know of - that it really depresses me that huxley made a novel out of it. being a sci-fi fan and having heard so much praise over this novel, it made me disappointed reading it, to say the least. the characters are flat and uninteresting with few exceptions, and the plot is awful! the only thing next to the idea - that is the society he creates and what it stands for - that i like is the conversations that some of the characters have about that society. stereotypically, only the male characters have those conversations. but then huxley is not the first, nor the last sci-fi author to create great new societies and conditions for humans and others but totally look pass gender injustices.
in my opinion, huxley should have taken his great idea and made it something other than a novel, or he should have asked someone else, who could actually write novels, to help him write the characters. i'm sorry to be hard on a classic, but there it is.