Today is the birthday of writer Aldous Huxley.
Huxley’s grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, was one of the great scientists of the previous century, and Thomas considered becoming a scientist himself. At 17, he came down with an eye disease that rendered him nearly blind and he decided to be a writer.
His first successful novel was Point Counter Point (1928), but he is best known for Brave New World (1932).
That novel is now a standard reading for many high school students. It describes a a future in which most human beings are born in test tube factories, genetically engineered to belong in one of five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. There are no families, people have sex all the time and never fall in love, and they keep themselves happy by taking a drug called “soma.”
The novel was an early predictor of genetic engineering, test-tube babies, anti-depression medication, and virtual reality.
It preceded George Orwell’s 1984 by a few years later, and the two books are often discussed together as visions of the future which is now our present.