SELECTIONS FROM “BRAVE NEW WORLDS”, edited by John Joseph Adams
Here is another happy find from the Baen Free Library, a section of the Baen site where a good number of books is offered for free download, as a way to sample authors and their works. Selections from Brave New Worlds is a sampler from a larger collection of short stories, this time with a dystopian theme. Not all of them were concerned with ruin and destruction changing society, as is often the case, but they were all quite intriguing in their very different outlook.
IS THIS YOUR DAY TO JOIN THE REVOLUTION?
This short story was quite intriguing: it depicts an alternate version of our world ruled by an apparently benign totalitarian regime (and how can a totalitarian rule ever be benign?), one where ubiquitous propaganda dictates the citizens’ way of life, of behavior, of thought.
For example, an unspecified event called “the Bang” has allegedly created pockets of an infectious disease against which the government enforces a widespread campaign of prevention, but there are those who claim it’s all a massive hoax to keep people in line. Or couples are formed on the basis of state selection, and their relationship closely monitored to observe anything untoward. Or again, citizens are constantly instructed to be on the lookout for any “anomalous” behavior, and to report it no matter how trivial it might look, because – as the propaganda says – “What do you know that we should know?”.
For all its outward ordinariness, this is the kind of society that most frightens me, one where people – with the exception of a very few – don’t even realize that they are being controlled, herded and shaped according to someone else’s idea of perfection. It’s even worse than an open dictatorship, because on the surface people should not have anything to complain about. “Should not” being the key word here…
It might have given me the chills, but I truly appreciated this tale, one I heartily recommend.