Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's dystopian (not utopian) vision of the future (the far future when he originally wrote the book, although it seems much closer now). As such it blends together science fiction and social commentary.
Huxley's future is one of universal happiness although it is a facile, passionless happiness. Children are created on a production line with their social status (denoted by Greek letters) predetermined; this social status is then reinforced through chemicals and conditioning (in their sleep). Happiness is maintained chemically (mainly through a drug called soma) and by allowing the people to lead largely responsibility free lives devoted to pleasure, principally sex. Physical perfection is the norm, nobody reads (or thinks), religion has disappeared (God manifests himself by his absence), and there is no conflict: it is a global society of peace, harmony and happiness for all.
Into this world Huxley introduces his principle protagonist - John the Savage - a young man raised outside of this society. John is self-educated, largely through reading the works of Shakespeare. The book examines John's impact on this society (minimal) and its impact on him (huge and inevitably tragic).
Huxley writes well and creates a compelling book describing a society that fascinates and repels. However, the book is not without problems - the characters have no depth (because they really do have no depth). John is an unrealistic, unconvincing character, he is only there to generate conflict. I suspect the passage of time has been unkind in this respect - we struggle to empathise with John, as his attitudes no longer reflect those of the reader. Huxley is not interested... [continues]
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