Monday, May 18, 2015

Brave New World comes to TV

I enjoy many aspects of being a professor. Getting to occasionally teach science fiction is one of them.

Among the science fiction texts in the curriculum is Brave New World. The reasons I enjoy this book by Aldous Huxley number in the thousands but I presume many of said reasons are those shared by bibliophiles everywhere. It describes a utopia that is actually quite a dystopia beneath the surface. It's a cautionary tale.

It's a story about our current world...even though it was written in the 1930s.

In Brave New World, humans are created in labs called "hatcheries." They are then psychologically conditioned as to how to live in society, engaging in a veritable paradise of pleasure. People have constant sex and go shopping to buy products that they don't really need. If emotions such as fear, sadness, or doubt ever creep into their existence, they take a drug called "soma" and everything is right once more. Beyond any of that, people gorge themselves on TV and movies, staying as far away as they can from books.

That last point is the most resonant with me. I could turn this post into a diatribe about how my students "just don't read these days" but that really is the low hanging fruit here. What really gets me is when I see close friends revere TV and movies as sacrosanct. The viewing of this mostly empty drivel becomes something of an act of communion with their families and there's just something wrong with you if you don't share that set of values or have the modicum of self respect to set aside time for your dear sweet TV. My view of the world sinks just a bit more every time I get a request of "Hey! Wanna come over and watch (title of drivel goes here)?"

Which is why I find supreme irony in the fact that Brave New World is about to become a TV miniseries in the SyFy network. 

That's right. This book, one consistently ranked among the top ten novels of the English language, one that warned of a future where everyone would watch movies and stop reading, is coming to TV. And headed up by Steven Spielberg no less. If nothing else, that lends the production a rather impressive pedigree and lessens the chances of added "splodey action scenes" as Bay basically did to Brave New World with his abominable The Island.

Now here's the kicker: after bemoaning television, will I watch this miniseries? Will I become like the central character of Bernard in the book? Will return from the reservation (I am going to New Mexico this summer) and then bathe deeply amid all with which I once held with contempt? Then again, social media may allow me to rubberneck my way around the show, sniffing about to determine if I will ultimately give it a watch.

Until it airs, you can download for free an audiobook version of Brave New World that is read by Huxley himself. Can't beat that.

I mean, unless you wanted to do something really crazy like read the book.

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