Friday, March 26, 2010

"We"

A couple years ago I signed up for a science fiction class at community college, and in that class I was introduced to a wonderful book: "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin. I picked it up to reread this week, and am roughly halfway through it.

We see the world of "We" through the eyes of D-503, who is the chief engineer of a space shuttle project. D (their names are often shortened to just the first letter) begins a journal which the space shuttle will carry to a new world, hoping that it will help the backwards barbarians realize that true happiness can only be found though serving the Benefactor, and through having no freedom.

Yep, you got that right: true happiness can only be found if you are not free. This being the case, the world that D lives in is very structured. They only have about two hours each day that are not set aside for anything in particular, and D hopes that one day even those hours will be filled.

And to give you an idea of exactly how regimented their days are, I would like to share a brief passage found on page 12:

"Every morning, with six-wheeled precision, at the same hour and the same moment, we -- millions of us -- get up as one. At the same hour, in million-headed unison we end it. And, fused into a single million-handed body, at the same second, designated by the Table, we lift our spoons to our mouths. At the same second, we come out for our walk, go to the auditorium, go to the hall for Taylor exercises, fall asleep...."

Wow. That's insane.

And even sex is controlled. The hormones in everyone's blood is examined by the Sexual Department, they determine how often any particular person needs sex, and sex is scheduled into each individual's life accordingly.

To keep an eye on people there are video cameras up all over the place. Not bedrooms, though. There's no need for that, since the outside walls are actually just one big sheet of glass. They have no privacy at all, except for when they have sex, at which time they are allowed to lower the blinds for one hour.

The society is a well oiled machine that works beautifully, and nothing unexpected or unplanned happened. At least, in theory...

I think I'll be writing more about this book. It really is great.

4 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yes, this book does sound good. The controlled society reminds me of Orwell's 1984. PS: Nice blog makeover!

Sarita Rucker said...

This book takes 1984 to a whole new level. However, We takes 1984 to a whole new level. It was also written before 1984, I was surprised to find out.

ps. Thanks!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Interesting! When was We written, vis-a-vis Orwell's 1984?

Sarita Rucker said...

1989 was published in 1949, and We was was published in English in 1924.

It wasn't published in the language it was written in (Russian) until much later. I guess the people in Zamyatin's homeland didn't really like his book.

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