Are we living in Orwellian or Kafkaesque times?

  • Dickensian — A gloomy view of how capitalism breeds rot from the ground up, servicing only the rich.
  • Huxlerian — The idea, as seen in Brave New World (1933), that emerging technologies such as television and genetics, coupled with new theories into human psychology, can be used to manipulate the intelligence of the masses, creating a system, not unlike Orwell’s where the end game is complete order and obedience to the social structure (although less painful!) Huxley is often compared against Orwell, as two competing futures — one of pleasure and one of pain, although both are about control over the minds, hearts and bodies of people — just in different ways. Ray Bradbury is also comparable to Huxley, as he explored similar concepts in his depiction of television and the destruction of high-culture to ensure world peace without restless thought or harmful artistic expression in Fahrenheit 451 (1953).
  • Dickish — Philip K. Dick’s concept of the ‘evil world’ order descending into chaos and ‘kipple’ because of an imbalance in natural world forces. Dick had an awful lot to say about the pervasiveness of modern advertising and commercialisation, too, from the relatively safe space of the 1960s, as well as comments on the nature of political control in The Man in the High Castle (1962).
  • Ellisianian — Harlan Ellison’s concept of man’s natural ‘animalness’ is brought on by our city-dwelling presence and cultural attitudes.
  • Pohlish — Fredrick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth were committed anti-capitalists who saw power increasingly invested in companies over governments, aiming to turn free citizens into loyal consumers — as evidenced in The Space Merchants (1952).

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J.R.McCulloch

J.R.McCulloch

A literary student by nature (and training), with a splash of ad experience, I’m setting out to make passion my career — reading, writing and SF.