Top 10 Influences: #7 – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#10 – Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
#9 – The Island of Doctor Moreau, H. G. Wells
#8 – Spider-Man, Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
#7 – Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
There are those who say they hated reading in High School because they didn’t like what they read. Perhaps if I were to hop in H.G. Well’s time machine, I would find that I, too, had a hard time. But the book I remember reading most during that time was BraveNew World. And, as a part of it, I had to write something like a 10-page report on it—which was to be done as a critical review.
I wish I still had that. Among the reasons I wish I had it, though, is because I would love to know exactly how clueless I was back then. I’ve read it later in life, and gotten more and more out of it (and, thinking about it now, I know I should read it again).
Even taking into account my teen-aged naiveté, I find it very hard to totally capture what the book represented to me as a teen-aged kid. This is, of course, one of the earliest SF works that has at its core the root of the individual against the whole of the state. But it blew me away even back then because I knew it was commenting on pretty much everything about the social structures that we humans build around us. It is a “system engineer’s” book, and at the end of the day, that’s really what I am (I guess … < insert another long-winded diatribe here > ). The bottom line for me is that this book, when combined with another that is soon to come on the list, served to let me understand what a story set in a world of SF could really do.
I should say here that I still almost didn’t include this in my list because I struggled to find deep connections between this and my work. I think a story like “Bugs” (Analog, 2013) carries a bit of BNW in it. And maybe G-Bomb (Men Writing SF as Women, 2003). But those are short stories, and BNW is a bigger thing that I think is harder to point to in a short story. So I set it aside. But then I started looking at my novel length work, and I see parts of it in at least three books (or series of books, as they were), all of which involve characters dealing with the systematic workings of the world around them.
Sometime here in the future, we’ll see all three of those released. So I’m counting it.