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Dystopias

Book Reviews: Into the Crystal Ball


"When I dipped into the future as far as human eye can see."

 Every generation produces at least one writer who sets upon paper his visions of the future. As early as the 13th Century Roger Bacon is reputed to have visualised a "horseless chariot." Tennyson in his "Locksley Hall" foresaw aerial warfare. Early this century H. G. Wells dreamed up all kinds of weird and wonderful phenomena which if nothing else, at least made an intersting film.

Book Review: "Wake Up, England!"

"Wake Up, England! Being the Story of John Bull—Socialist.” by Edward Prince (St. Stephen's Press)

 This is a stupid book - a clumsy book. It is addressed more particularly to anti-Socialists, and, in the guise of a badly written tale, endeavours to convey some idea of the state of things thirty years after the Revolution. The author would certainly have succeeded better had Nature, endowed him with a brain, but there, as the volume is directed to those equally lacking in intelligence, no great harm will be done.

Proper Gander: Maid In America

Proper Gander

Lengthy, weighty, glossy dramas have become a speciality of US television producers in recent years. The more interesting examples have had some political slant: The Americans follows the increasingly complicated lives of Soviet agents undercover in 80s Washington DC, while House Of Cards depicts the power games and machinations in Congress. The premise behind The Handmaids Tale (Channel 4) is less familiar, but its themes have wider relevance to society today. The series is an adaptation of the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, who is one of the show’s producers and makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo appearance. Leisurely dramatised over ten episodes (with a second series already commissioned), the series has more time to explore its setting than previous stage and screen versions and, arguably, the novel itself.

Between the Lines: Orwell, Gorbachev and News from Oceania

News from Oceania

George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eight Four, is about the most miserable social vision ever constructed. In 1984 there was much debate about how far society had gone down the road to Orwell's fascistic nightmare world. While "intellectuals" were weighing civil liberties on the Orwellian scales, picketing miners were feeling the truncheons of workers in uniform who were sent to break their resistance. What happened to the miners — the state brutality, government callousness and media vilification — was a stronger answer to the question of what kind of society 1984 was than any of the 19.50 hardback academics ever came up with.

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