The Brave New World is a sort of Utopia, where humans are not born to mothers; they are bred in bottles and slowly travel by way of a huge conveyor belt through various machines during the gestational period. Those babies who will become astronauts spend a majority of time upside-down in the bottles, and those who will work in the jungles are submitted to a higher than normal temperature throughout the process. The embryos which are destined to be in one of the lower classes (Epsilons or Deltas) are purposefully deprived of oxygen so that they will not be "born" too intelligent for their class. In light of the current progressions that we have made with cloning and genetic alteration, it seems that Huxley has shown us one distinctly possible direction that society could wind up taking...
The book begins with a tour through the "decanting" factory.. recently fertilized eggs are artificially multiplied in the "Bokanovsky Process", which can create almost 100 identical embryos from a single egg. The lower classes will be multiplied to the highest degree, while the Alphas (the upper administrative class) will be individuals. The tour continues up to the nurseries where the children are conditioned every day to enjoy their lot in life. Some of this conditioning is done through aversion therapy, while some of it is drilled into the childrens' heads while they sleep. This sort of conditioning is what leads to a perfectly controlled world. (The controlled drug called Soma which is distributed faithfully to the masses doesn't hurt, either).Read more ›
It's fashionable and, I think, considered "deep" to read a book like this and say "how prophetic" or "look, it's actually happening!" It's also disingenuous. Many reviewers have said something like "see, people today take drugs and watch silly movies for escapist entertainment -- Huxley's Utopia is just around the corner!" But people in Huxley's day also took drugs (he specifically mentions cocaine and alcohol abuse) and partook of the escapist entertainment of their day. The crux of Huxley's dystopian vision wasn't free love or happiness through chemicals -- these were just enablers, like Roman bread and circuses -- but the conditioning, since before birth, of each person to fill a pre-ordained role in society; in effect, the elimination of free will regarding one's lot in life. Thankfully, this nightmare is no closer today than it was in Huxley's time -- indeed, with Communism and the attendant evils of Stalinist-era collectivization all but dead, it's more remote than ever.
Must also recommend: Jackson T. McCrae’s “Katzenjammer” which is VERY well-written, funny, disturbing, and informative.