Monday, June 22, 2009

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
Read by Michael York
Produced by BBC Audiobooks America
approx 9 hours


Every so often I go back and read one of those books that you HAD to read in school. Whether high school or college, if they were on the reading/study list they had to be boring. Many of these books I found interesting but with the added feature of having to analyze and dissect these books it seemed to take away the enjoyment of just reading a good book. I went back to the shelves a couple of years ago and re-read "Moby Dick" and actually enjoyed that book.

This time around I decided on going back and re-reading "A Brave New World." At the time I decided to do that I found an audiobook version read by Michael York, and decided to give that a try. After all, It's the guy from "Logan's Run" reading it...I know some of you say the guy from the Austin Powers movies, but I enjoyed "Logan's Run" more and I like to show my age.

So after years of intense study & dissecting of this book in High School and in Freshman English @ SIU, I won't be overanalyzing this book. Been there, done that, even got a t-shirt. Instead let's talk about this book in generalities and for enjoyment purposes.

"A Brave New World" is one of those dystopian society books that warns us as humans what we may be headed for. (Oops starting to analyze here.) In this future society people are not born but are decanted from bottles in large factories. In these factories they separate the different castes of humans by slight chemical additions or deletions from the bottles on the assembly line. Through years of study scientists discovered that not everyone can be the super-smart Alpha plus plus, who would do the grunt work? So Epsilons are developed to do said grunt work. The other castes are Betas, Gammas and Deltas with varying degrees in each, signified by a plus or minus in their cast.

Also in this future history is ignored, for it is the past and the past is gone. The center of worship is not God but Ford (as in Henry, the man that perfected the assembly line) and Freud. At times the two are referred to as the same.

The society is kept at bay by doses of a drug called Soma. Soma the effects of Alcohol & Christianity without all the guilt.

The story centers around Bernard Marx who, rumor has it, accidentally had alcohol added to his bottle which stunted his growth and as an Alpha plus he's not as beautiful as the other Alphas. Bernard is a psychologist (specializing in hypnop├Ždia). Hypnop├Ždia is the sleep therapy that conditions infants and children to develop into loving society. Bernard decides to take his annual holiday to the savage (non-modernized) lands in New Mexico, USA.

Short and sweet he brings back a savage that is the son of a member of modern society that got lost in the savage lands and spent a number of years raising her son in the savage lands. In this future the concept of a Mother is similar to pornography and highly detested.

The savage in short revolts against the non-self-thinking society after the death of his mother. As a result Bernard and a colleague of his are exiled to islands of self-thinkers. The savage tries to isolate himself but the "natives" of London bring their Soma and celebrate the visual image of the savage with Soma induced orgies.

Interesting science-fiction and social commentary all rolled into one in this book. Michael York delivers this book with ease and grace. Being that London is the center of society in this book Mr. York's accent adds believability and his voicework keeps the characters separated and unique. So do yourself a favor and just read this book for fun. I found that reading it just for fun I actually was able to absorb the social commentary a little easier and could actually analyze the book with more ease.

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