Brave New World


BRAVE NEW WORLD
BRAVE New World was published in 1932. It is a remarkable piece of science fiction for both its time and our own. It seems to withstand the intervening 65 years, primarily because of its depiction of a tightly controlled, rigidly stratified homogenous society. Issues of social control are as relevant today as in 1932, perhaps more so.
Reproductive technology plays a key role in the social control of Brave New World. Reproduction takes place in a "Hatchery". Excised ova are inspected for abnormalities, fertilised, put into incubators and then undergo the "Bokanovsky Process". Each embryo is irradiated for 8 minutes with X-rays until rather than the cells dividing normally, they "bud". Each bud has the potential of becoming a separate but identical embryo. These buds are then subjected to various chemicals such as alcohol, until they also "bud". This process is repeated many times until an average harvest of 11,000 identical embryos can be created from one egg. These 11,000 identical brothers and sisters become a "Bokanovsky group".
Each embryo is then bottled, labelled and sent down the conveyor belt to the "Social Predestination Room". It is here that they are given a caste designation (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon), carded into the main card index and stored. It is here that they are "sexed". Thirty percent of the female embryos are allowed to develop normally (to maintain the supply of initial ova). The rest of the female embryos are given a large dose of male hormone that renders them structurally female in all ways, but sterile.
It is also here that their caste designation determines how much oxygen they will receive in their bottle. "The lower the caste, the shorter the oxygen." The lower caste Epsilons are oxygen deprived because for the labours they are destined to perform, they will not need human intelligence.
The "Bokanovskified", pre-sexed, caste designated embryos are then taken out of storage when needed and "decanted" where as children, they are subjected immediately to sleep learning tapes on the "conditioning wards". Hour after hour as they sleep, the children receive sleep reinforcement of their social caste designation. As they mature, they naturally assume the responsibilities and the rules of their castes. Very few question, as their caste is assigned from birth. If they do, they are exiled to an island (usually Iceland) where their questioning can't contaminate others.
Thus, the society is stable and unquestioning. Identical genetic material, rigidly enforced social caste using oxygen deprivation and sleep tapes for brainwashing. Everyone easily fulfils society's obligations and there are few surprises. If things should get stressful for any reason, there's always the wonder drug "soma". If anything goes wrong, there's always the "soma holiday" from life. Most of the Epsilon workers are paid in "soma" tablets to keep them happy. It wouldn't do to have an unhappy workforce. Leisure time is often spent at the "feelies", a movie theatre where the emotions and responses of the actors can actually be experienced.
But not everyone belongs to this society. Some places there are reservations, where an Indian tribe lives. They have their own culture, with worshipping of a mix between Jesus and some old Indian gods.
And in this story we meet 4 persons. Bernhard Marx, Lenina Crowne, Helmholtz Watson and the savage John.
Bernhard and Helmholtz are "thinkers". They haven't conformed properly. They actually do some thinking of their own. Bernhard is also peculiar in the respect that he is not of the average height as his class. There are rumours that there was put some alcohol in his bottle when he was on the embryo stadium. On the other hand we have Lenina, a girl just doing her job, taking her soma, and having her sex.
She and Bernhard goes to the reservation in New Mexico for their holidays, and meet the savage John. He is the son of the director of the London hatchery. His mother was also there on her holidays, but she got lost, and stayed there. So the young John learned to read, and he has read a lot of Shakespeares plays.
They bring John and his mother back to England. After meeting a lot of problems in his new society, and when both Bernhard and Helmhotz are sent away, he finally tries to escape, and he runs off, and goes to a lighthouse. After some