It’s been an astounding 75 years since this book was written and yet it is still compelling, relevant and above all visionary. It tells the tale of a not too distant future where babies are not born, but manufactured. Each child is conditioned throughout their lives into their particular role in society and nothing more. People exist in a hierarchical cast system and the intelligent Alpha Plus cast make the decisions and the stunted moronic Epsilon work the elevators and down the mines. Each cast abhors the cast below and aspires to the ones above. Society works in perfect harmony as they baby like populous fly around in futuristic flying machines and take drugs to keep them happy and docile. The story follows a man called Bernard, who being slightly different to his cloned brethren, develops a sense of individual identity and with it dangerous thoughts above his cast classification. Bernard’s job in the conditioning centre gives him inside knowledge about the shaping of society. After a trip to a ‘savage’ encampment of Native American Indians his world spirals along a roller coaster of success and failure.
Being a huge fan of science fiction I had obviously heard of this book but was always put off because of its age. After seeing many authors visions of the future in the seventies TV shows, I was skeptical that a writer in the thirties could have envisioned a future that would be believable and relevant to me. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at his vision. Whilst the language is reminiscent of high-class London society in the thirties, you soon see past that as your emotions are twisted and contorted. The world Aldous Huxley creates makes the reader cringe with disgust, and yet intrigues them due to its believability. The flying machines may use levers and switches instead of touch screens and speech control but these are minor elements in the background of a fascinating story about how one mans difference can cause such a stir. Parts of the story remind me of King Kong but after reading this I can see where a lot of Sci-Fi movies got their inspiration from. For example, the 1997 movie Gattaca portrayed a futuristic world of genetically modified humans and one mans struggle being accepted in this world.
This is a fantastic book and should be on the reading list of science fiction fan. The 75th anniversary of the book is all the excuse you need to read this rare gem.