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View Diary: Sci-Fi Fantasy Club: Which Ugly SF/Fantasy Ducklings became Literary Swans? (140 comments)

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  •  Of the six watersheds I mentioned, Brave New World (8+ / 0-)

    is my own least favorite, and it was the least original - Huxley took a lot of ideas and flavor that Yevgeny Zamyatin had already written in We:

    George Orwell averred that Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) must be partly derived from We. However, in a 1962 letter to Christopher Collins, Huxley says that he wrote Brave New World as a reaction to H.G. Wells's utopias long before he had heard of We. According to We translator Natasha Randall, Orwell believed that Huxley was lying. Kurt Vonnegut said that in writing Player Piano (1952), he "cheerfully ripped off the plot of Brave New World, whose plot had been cheerfully ripped off from Yevgeny Zamyatin's We."
    Aldous Huxley was a genius, but his fiction tends to be too dry and cerebral. I found Point Counter Point more convincing and human as a novel than Brave New World.

    He also wrote a non-fiction book which blew my mind. In The Devils of Loudun he examined the historical documents pertaining to a famous tale full of petty politics and diabolical possession and, with breathtaking literary and psychological analysis, brought plausible clarity to a three centuries old mystery. But it's a rather ugly tale of human darkness

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 09:15:57 PM PDT

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    •  I read "Brave New World" while in grade school (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lunacat, RiveroftheWest, Brecht

      which, oddly, was when I went through my Huxley phase. I thought it showed a great psychological insight at the time. Certainly it's take on religion seemed to differ greatly from the one evinced in Brave New World, which was the first thing I read by him.

      Unlike yourself, I was completely swept up by it. This despite the fact that I felt no sympathy for his anti-tech slant or his apparent nostalgia for medieval Christianity. I knew I was supposed to think of the savage as a sort of tragic figure but I only remember thinking of him as rather pathetic. None of which keeps me from rating the book as one of my favorites.

      Funny thing is, while I read other books by Huxley, I never read the ones that later become staples of the counter culture: The Doors of Perception and Island

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:34:19 AM PDT

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      •  Aaack! I meant to say I read "The Devils of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Brecht

        Loudun " in grade school. Sorry.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 06:10:50 AM PDT

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        •  Then you showed a wicked and unseemly curiosity; (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves

          Noone should read The Devils of Loudun in grade school. It has too many naughty ideas. But I did think, when I read it, that noone else on earth could have untangled that mystery as clearly as Huxley did.

          I'm tempted to reread Brave New World, to see if it's better than I remember it. But Huxley has such a rich polymath mind, that I ought to try some of his other books, and reread Zamyatin's We instead.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:42:59 AM PDT

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          •  The word precocious covers a multitude (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, RiveroftheWest

            of sins. Having three older sibs and a mother who was a voracious reader, I tended to trail along in their wake. I was also absorbing some of Heinlein's more controversial stuff at the time. Poe was likewise a childhood favorite, along with a lot of pulp fiction.

            I don't know that I agree with the stricture about naughty ideas. The biggest problem I had with it was the awareness that I wasn't supposed to be thinking about such things and, as a consequence, feeling compelled to conceal the fact. It would have been better, I think, if I could have discussed them openly. But as Dylan said:

            If my thought dreams could be seen,
            They'd probably put my head
            in a guillotine.
            I will say that as a consequence I developed a radically skeptical attitude about the platitudes and hypocrisies of adults. I suppose that could be considered a negative effect, at least by adults.

            I don't find Huxley's assertion that he wrote BNW as a counter to Wellsian techno-optimism at all hard to believe. It may be that Things to Come was Well's reply. The character of Theotocopulos has something in common with the Savage as well as with the aestheticism expressed by Huxley.

            Good luck with WE. I found it a bit of a disappointment, having searched for it based on references I'd read elsewhere.


            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:53:29 PM PDT

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            •  I was being facetious; my mom never forbade books, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, WB Reeves

              and I sought out the dangerous ones. Looking back, the only ones that weren't age-appropriate were the intentionally disturbing horror, the ones aiming to shock and give you nightmares (not Poe, but King, sometimes). That stuff's just hard to comfortably absorb into an innocent young mind.

              I love Dylan, and that's one of my favorite lines.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:46:06 PM PDT

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    •  Brave New Whatever (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ender, RiveroftheWest, Brecht

      My freshman English teacher in high school recommended Brave New World.  I suspect her reasoning was:  "You like science fiction?  Here, this is science fiction, but it's real literature."

      I didn't care for it.  I didn't really like any of the characters and found the dystopian utopia depressing.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

      by quarkstomper on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 06:02:40 AM PDT

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