An essay on Speculative Fiction

Topics: Brave New World, Communism, Dystopia Pages: 5 (1639 words) Published: November 19, 2013
AN ESSAY

"Speculative texts through the creation of distinct worlds can challenge or reinforce understanding of ourselves and how we live in the world"

Utopian and Dystopian composers employ the creation of distinct worlds as a medium to covertly express political concerns. The fictional worlds created by Aldous Huxley and Ursula K. Le Guin in “Brave New World” and “The Dispossessed” elucidate prevalent social issues of their respective contexts, provoking alternate understandings of humankind. By examining the relationship between scientific development and the human condition in the distinct fictional worlds, Huxley and Le Guin pertain to the moral uncertainties of the contemporary reader.

The distinct worlds created by Huxley and Le Guin allude to major political concerns of their time. Written in the post war era, Huxley satirically amalgamates his concerns of the rising dictatorships in Europe, the American invention of mass production and subsequent rise of monopolistic capitalism in “Brave New World”, while Ursula K. Le Guin utilises a reversal in perspective to examine America’s advanced Capitalism and involvement in the Vietnam War from an outsider’s point of view in “The Dispossessed”.Conforming to the convention of an all-powerful totalitarian state, the leader of which is revered and worshipped by the citizens, Huxley presents a political structure that echoes the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini in Italy and the “internal hierarchy” of Russian Bolshevism in the 1930’s. The totalitarian power of the “World State” and quasi-religious worship of the “Almighty Ford” satirically voice Huxley’s fears of the rising American consumerist culture infiltrating England and the rest of the world. The United States, a rising cultural and economic power of the time, saw Henry T. Ford’s application of mass production through assembly line, the product of which was “the introduction of our Ford’s first Model-T…” automobile. Ford’s industrial philosophy is taken directly out of Huxley’s society and dominates every aspect of life from the mass production of people through “Bokanovsky’s process” to the sensory imagery of a clock tower “Big Henry sounded the hour. ‘Ford,’ sang out an immense bass voice” with authoritarian power in “Brave New World”. Employing the traveller/journey convention of early Utopian fiction, Le Guin uses Shevek’s perspective as an outsider to emphasise the futility of fighting ideological wars in third world countries and the exorbitance of advanced capitalism. Le Guin’s Urras closely resembles the world in 1974; a consumer capitalist society, A-Io, opposed to a state communist society, Thu, fighting ideological wars in Third World countries, Benbili. The parallels to the United States, the Soviet Union and Vietnam are clear. The views of an upper class older Urrasti man named Atro resonate with the typical right-wing American mentality, when Shevek asks whether the people approve of the war in Benbili to which Atro responds “Approve? You don't think we'd lie down and let the damned Thuvians walk all over us? Our status as a world power is at stake!”. When Shevek clarifies that he meant the people who must fight, not the government he is met with the response “What's it to them? They're used to mass conscriptions. It's what they're for, my dear fellow!” emphasising the stark nature embedded within in-egalitarian capitalist societies. Le Guin effectively uses subjective third-person narration to express Shevek’s and her own views on Capitalism “He could not force himself to understand how banks functioned and so forth, because all the operations of capitalism were as meaningless to him as the rites of a primitive religion, as barbaric, as elaborate, and as unnecessary.” Aldous Huxley’s satirical imagery and Ursula K. Le Guin’s use of point of view are used in the distinct worlds of “Brave New World” and “The Dispossessed” to covertly express political criticisms.

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