In this weekly series, we bring you the genre novels you really should have read by now…
BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
First Published: 1932
Genre: Science Fiction
“Civilization is sterilization.”
— Bernard Marx
Synopsis: Technology is heralded above all else in a futuristic society where time is measured in terms of A.F. (After Ford), instead of A.D. The members of society are herded into appropriate social structures, so that no one is too overwhelmed, and no one becomes too intellectually stimulated. We get an insight into a world where hedonism is par for the course, both in terms of sexual gratification and a potent drug known as soma, when a “society of savages” (including the man fittingly known as “John Savage”) is discovered and it causes Bernard Marx, a likable everyman, to question his own role in society.
Why It’s Must-Read: This classic of the genre is a sobering glance at a futuristic society where everyone is supposed to be satisfied toeing the party line, and what happens when people decide not to be.
Related Works: Huxley answered this book with a reassessment in an essay, Brave New World Revisited, in 1958. And his final novel, Island (1962), presents a utopian society in counterpoint to that shown in his most famous novel.
On Screen: A low budget version, directed by Burt Brinkerhoff, was produced in 1980 (and can be streamed on Google Video). A mediocre TV movie version was produced in 1998, directed by Leslie Libman and Larry Williams, and starring Peter Gallagher and Leonard Nimoy, among others. Adaptations by the likes of Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg have been more recently mooted but have yet to go into firm production.
On Stage: A 2015 theatrical version toured the UK.
In Other Media: Radio plays, a Marvel comic that is more homage than adaptation, and the idea of a dystopian society allows for a loose connection between the novel and 1999’s superhero role-playing game Brave New World.
In Popular Culture: The negative possibilities of genetic science that the novel explores lent the book’s title to a 1994 British documentary series about bioethics. There’s an Iron Maiden song, and a ton of shows have used “Brave New World” as an episode title, to add some import to their programming. Heroes is understandable. Boy Meets World or One Tree Hill? Probably not.
Awards and Nominations: Nothing of note.
Did You Know? The phrase “brave new world” comes from Miranda’s speech in Shakespeare‘s The Tempest, Act V, Scene I:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”