Is your favourite classic the one that sticks with you, years after you first read it – or is it the one that you like to read over and over again? I’m not so sure on this one – so I’m going with the first thought.
You’ll know from one of my earlier posts that I had a summer ‘blitzing’ classics I’d not read before, after my first year at uni. After reading 1984, I moved straight into Brave New World, recommended by my Dad.
In some ways, I think BNW was what I expected 1984 to be. I suppose it’s a little more ‘sci-fi’ and fitted more with a ‘future world’ that I pictured in my head, whereas 1984 felt a little dated in some ways – yes, I know I was reading 1984 in 2000! Where 1984 had politics and surveillance states, it felt quite cold war – BNW, with it’s chemically induced happiness, behaviour conditioning and designer baby development threw up more complicated questions for me, about what is ethical, how far science can go as a society control, how you might feel coming into this ‘perfect’ world from the outside, and whether it really is the utopia it’s promised to be.
The ideas from BNW have definitely stayed with me: ten years later, when my own dystopian world was forming inside my head for Hope’s Daughter and The Rainbow Maker’s Tale, I found myself being drawn to science and the opportunities it offered for changing our futures. You might also find some little nods towards the classic dystopians in my books: 1984 surveillance and suspicion of ‘the system’; BNW, chemically controlling our behaviours, designer breeding, choosing people’s destiny…maybe touching on what is ethical, and how far you can go before it becomes unethical…