The Pequod Review:
Aldoux Huxley's Brave New World seems to me to be a much more subtle and complex book than George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The horror of Brave New World isn’t a heavy-handed and nefarious authoritarian entity in the form of Big Brother, but instead a much more pervasive system of control and manipulation based on private sector principles. It is a world that on its surface seems to have achieved every promise of modern society — all of our material needs are met, we can have sex with whomever we want, and we all enjoy our jobs through genetic pre-selection and hypnotic conditioning. Yet it is a cold, empty, and loveless existence.
Huxley seems to have intended his book to be a parody of 1920s and 1930s utopian novels by H.G. Wells and others. Those books were fantasies in which socialism (or at least a form of collectivism) solved most human problems. Huxley’s implicit argument is that not only is this unlikely to work, but that a society where individual differences are subjugated to the needs of the group produces a type of conformity that erases much of what makes us human. While these themes sound prescient for a book published in 1932, Huxley almost certainly borrowed heavily from earlier works by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Bertrand Russell (especially Why Men Fight and The Scientific Outlook), and even Wells himself. But the history of science fiction is one of recycled and repurposed plots, and Huxley’s book itself would influence later writers — and in fact changed the entire course of science fiction as a respected literary genre.