Gnosco: Science Fiction
(Image from AHI)
Brave New World
Maybe this isn’t the best example of science fiction, and it’s sad that it’s the only example I could think of for the time. Most people seem to get this as a required high school reading, unless you’re like me – then the class down the hall gets in as a required reading, you get jealous that they get to read an actual book instead of just excerpts from stories, and you go get it yourself (exactly what I did. Apparently only AP classes deserve real books). Anyway, point is: I read the book, it’s technically science fiction, and I know because I looked it up. So we have this week: Huxley’s Brave New World.
A lot of talk has been going on lately about books like this, depending on where you hang around and who you have been pretending not to be listening in on the conversations of. In this age of technology and touchy political climate, books like this one, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Orwell’s Animal Farm & 1985 both have been gaining popularity for their parallels to the world we find ourselves racing towards.
Brave New World focuses on the interactions of characters in a future world that seems devoid of sense, emotion, and perhaps even what it means to be human. The world is made up of artificially created humans, educated on social principles very alien to the reader, living almost exclusively for being social and being for the good of the group. They are kept pacified on the sensational “soma” drug, which is also a pillar of their culture, and everyone seems so happy…
It’s a book everyone should read, if not for being well-known, for it’s composition.
Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of champions is a speculative/science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut, it’s also known as Goodbye, Blue Monday. In this novel, Vonnegut has a way of turning the apparent normal into the perverse, spitting out black humor in his writing and his simple, but prominently pleasing marker drawings from an unnamed narrator that comes from a seemingly more knowledgeable, possibly futuristic dimension. Through satirical means, Vonnegut gives us a look at war, sex, harsh racism, success, politics, and pollution in America, and gives us a view into his oddly shaped and not-so-subjective truth.
The book revolves around a reoccurring character in the Vonnegut’s writing, Kilgore Trout. In this novel, Trout writes science fiction novels and short stories. He writes many, appealing to very few, and his stories are spread out from smut, booby, titty, and itty bikini mags and his novels are published in the lower double digits. Strangely enough, an (ill) Midwest car dealer is taking Trout’s fiction as truth. This Midwest car dealer, Dwayne Hoover, through a series of desperate and manic occurrences, gets the author to visit his home of Midland City for an Arts festival, and talks the author up a great deal. Through the gift of a new novel, Dwayne becomes convinced he is the only one in the known universe who is capable of free will, and that everyone else is a robot. The book then turns into a violent rampage of insanity that follows Dwayne Hoover, and the eventual meeting of the narrator/creator of the universe/novel.
Breakfast of Champions is a rather simple novel. A very decent summary can be briefly told in, maybe, a page. What takes up most of the book, is Vonnegut’s tangents. Early on in the book, the author/narrator explains that he needs a place to get out all of his ideas and views that are taking up too much space in his head, “clear his head of all the junk.” Throughout the book, Trout’s novels and stories are explained surprisingly thoroughly, examining the core concepts and ideas in each text. It seems as if Vonnegut is using the space in Breakfast of Champions to explore more of his abstract sci-fi concepts that maybe he scrapped for novels or stories, or he was simply using it as a creative outlet to again, “clear his head of all the junk.”
The two main characters, Trout and Hoover, can be seen to represent something larger than their characters. Trout can be seen as the conscience of the world, the viewer trying to strain their eyesight on the objective, while Hoover can be closely associated with being a product of the modern world. Read the book, take what you can from any allegorical meaning or symbolism.
Overall, the book is immensely clever and widely humorous and entertaining, riddled with the disturbing nature of the world around us.