Aldous Huxley*s Brave New World

An Introduction
Original Cover Art to Brave New World
 Science Fiction
 Dystopian Literature
 Approaches to Reading Science Fiction
 Approaches to Reading Dystopian Literature
 Brave New World – Areas of Focus
Science Fiction
Science Fiction (also Scifi, SF)
A genre of literature in which works are set in the future, or in a present time setting
disrupted by a plot device (a new invention, an alien being).
Science Fiction is also called speculative fiction, because it supposes what life might be like in
the future or in an alternate past.
In general, Science Fiction has the following characteristics:
Respects the limits of scientific or pseudoscientific possibility
Has a moral or ethical message
Tries to discern humanity’s role in the universe
The value of Science Fiction lies in its ability to foresee tomorrow’s crises, to
dramatize human implications and consequences, and to act out alternatives.
Types of Science Fiction
Common topics:
Time Travel
Extraterrestrial Invasion/Contact
Humanity versus Technology
Other Creatures/Other Worlds
Subgenres of Science Fiction include:
Hard Science Fiction
Alternate Universe
Space Opera
Science Fiction –
History prior to Brave New World
Scholars consider Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein (1818) the first
work of science fiction
Late 19th Century:
 Jules Verne (1828-1905) – Journey to the Center of the
Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Twenty
Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869)
 H.G. Wells (1866-1946) – The Time Machine (1895), The
Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The War of the Worlds
 The first magazines to feature science fiction - Amazing
Stories (1926)and Weird Tales
 First use of the word “robot”: Karl Čapek’s RUR (1921)
 First film set in the future: Metropolis (1926)
 1930s comic strips: Superman, Flash Gordon, and Buck
Rogers helped spread science fiction to a wider
 1936: Aldous Huxley publishes Brave New World
Front-page illustration to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Theodore Von Holst
Dystopian Literature
Dystopian (sometimes “anti-utopian”) fiction is
a sub-genre of science fiction.
The word dystopia derives from combining the
prefix dys- ; Latin for “bad” with the Greek
topos “place”
Dystopia - Derivation
The word “dystopia” developed as a contrast to
Utopia - a word coined by Sir Thomas More
for his 1516 work of the same name.
Greek ou- “no/not”
Greek eu- “good”
In modern English,
utopia came to mean
“a perfect place.”
Illustration from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia
Dystopian Literature
In dystopian fiction, the futuristic society featured is
incredibly imperfect.
The purpose of dystopian works is didactic.
- Often written in reaction against movements
- Propaganda that “points fearfully” at the future “for a change of
attitude in the present” (The Science Fiction Encyclopedia)
Dystopias often feature:
 A totalitarian regime oppressing members of the society
 Societal rejection of the past
 Strict conformity
 A character or group of characters hoping to reform the society
 Radically different technology
Dystopian Novels
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1898)
We by Yevgeny Zamiatin (1920)
Anthem by Ayn Rand
1984 by George Orwell (1948)
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut (1952)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968)
The Running Man by Richard Bachman (1982)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
The Children of Men by P.D. James (1992)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993) – Newbery Medal Winner
Feed by M.T. Anderson (2002)
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
First edition cover of The Time Machine.
First edition dust jacket from A
Clockwork Orange.
Dystopian Films
Metropolis (1927)
THX 1138 (1971)
Soylent Green (1973)
Mad Max (1979)
Blade Runner (1982)
Brazil (1985)
Akira (1988)
The City of Lost Children (1995)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Gattaca (1997)
The Matrix (1999)
Minority Report (2002)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Album Cover Art for Aldous Huxley’s BBC narration of Brave New World
Approaches to Reading
Science Fiction
Strategies to keep in mind.
Be Patient: You may have to read several pages before
you start “getting it.”
Suspend Your Disbelief: Accept the universe the
author presents.
Reread: If you’re confused, acknowledge it and reread
the challenging sections of text.
Build your Vocabulary Skills: Rely on contextual clues
for unfamiliar terminology.
Synthesize:You have to remember content across
numerous passages in order to make meaning out of
the entire work.
Approaches to Reading Dystopian
In addition to applying the strategies for
reading SF, the following ideas should help:
 Author’s Purpose – What lesson is being
 Conventions – How does the work fit or differ
from the conventions of the subgenre?
 Prepare to Be Offended – The ideas
presented in dystopian literature are not
Brave New World: Tips for
 Keep in mind that Huxley’s objective is to
make the reader think about his own
 There will be many words you don’t
recognize, and you won’t find them in a
 The Complete Works of Shakespeare
influences much of what John Savage
says, does and thinks. Keep in mind that
he is parroting words that he doesn’t
necessarily fully understand and he’s
taking those words out of context.
Aldous Huxley, reading despite
his near-blindness.
The London Times
Brave New World: Areas of
 Structure of the Society: Keep track of the
caste system
 Figuring out not just Who’s Who, but Who’s
 Word Games: Look out for allusions, mottoes,
cliches, and neologisms adapted from familiar
English words and phrases

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