This Friday will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Aldous Huxley, the prolific writer best known for his dystopian vision of the future Brave New World. To honour the occasion I’ll be heading down to Edinburgh for my first visit to BBC Radio Scotland’s The Culture Studio. I’ll be chatting with Janice Forsyth about Huxley’s life and work – just how far are we now actually living in the world he imagined?
There’s an interesting connection here with Zamyatin’s We which I discussed last month at BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival. Huxley denied having read We before writing Brave New World but the similarities between the two tales are uncanny: the use of literature for state propaganda; the possibility of a space beyond the world of the controlled state; a final showdown with the man at the top; the threat the individual poses to an organised society. It’s hard to believe that We was not a source for Brave New World – George Orwell didn’t buy it; nor did Kurt Vonnegut, author of the fantastic Player Piano, who cheerfully admitted that he ripped off his plot from Brave New World which he had no doubts was equally ripped off from We. Lurking in the background here, as always of course, is H. G. Wells with his visions of future utopias and dystopias which have frightened and intrigued all subsequent speculative writers in equal parts.