Archive for the ‘Dystopian’ Category


Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: April 29, 2008

Cory Doctorow first came to my attention when I picked up a copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Its combination of absurdism and new paradigms in a realistic future setting hooked me on his writing, and I quickly came to be a semi-regular follower of Doctorow’s website, Boing Boing. He’s a huge believer in and supporter of the Creative Commons, and he puts his money where his mouth is – each of his books is available for free download, forever. That said, he still sells strong numbers, and has even increased his audience through this rather unorthodox approach. Lest this become a review of the man rather than the book, I’ll start talking about my favorite of all his works (so far): Little Brother.


Last month I reviewed one of my favorite SF novels of all time, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. This month, I turn to one of Orwell’s near-contemporaries, an author of another Dystopia that paints a world just as controlled as Orwell’s, only with a little more velvet on the iron fist: Aldous Huxley, and his magnum opus, Brave New World. Published in 1932, it predates Orwell’s work by just shy of two decades. While Orwell was influenced by his experiences in World War II, Huxley, nine years his senior, was more influenced by the laissez faire attitudes of the 1920s when writing his particular brand of future society. Although Brave New World‘s London is, on the surface, a much more desirable locale than the London of Winston Smith, we cannot forget that there is still that iron fist beneath the velvet surface. Click through after the break to get my take on this amazing novel.


1984 cover

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The three slogans of the Party sound eerily like the propaganda and doublespeak we hear on the nightly news. Not surprising, seeing as the term doublespeak is a play on George Orwell’s created language, Newspeak, which is his way of playing with how the signifier necessarily affects the signified in our everyday speech. If we no longer have the words to express dissent, dissent dies. And for Winston Smith, finding the right words to express himself is a matter of living a short while as a free man, versus living a life as another cog in the machine. Nineteen Eighty-Four is not only one of the most prescient novels of the twentieth century, it’s one of the greatest novels of all time.