Sunday, July 22, 2018

WeWe by Yevgeny Zamyatin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, why would I think that an old SF novel from 1924 might not be as polished and extravagant in exploring ideas and crafting a truly delicious dystopia as, say, 1984, or Anthem, or Brave New World as they did many years later? Or be as timely now as it was in the time where it was heralded as a "malicious slander on socialism"?

Did I avoid this mainly because I couldn't pronounce the author's name?

Maybe.

But that's horrible! Especially when this little gem is polished to a very high degree.

It lambasts current and past ideas of utopia, turning sex and the "greatest good" into a truly timeless dystopia. Not only that, it's witty, speaks of the death of all imagination, makes me care for its hero in a profound way even when he's following the grand dictates of this "final" society, and of course we feel the effects of the new revolution even when there could never BE another revolution.

You know what it reminds me of? The old move Metropolis. Now that's a true classic, too, and just as good today as it was back in 1927.

Notice a trend? That perhaps this little novel inspired all these names I dropped? Well, it's true, or at least, the authors admitted as such.

Make no mistake. The other authors took things into somewhat wilder directions, but We is closest to what we are now, for all that. And it's no less polished. In some ways, it's better. It all depends on whether you want your SF dystopias a bit more hardcore and dark or with more worldbuilding. Rand was nuts with the worldbuilding and Huxley feels like he cribbed this entire novel, but 1984 goes the distance. Anyway I look at it, though, this novel belongs with all the greats. At least in dystopias. :)

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