Brave New World depicts a simple, light-hearted and perfectly content society, where, through conditioning from the moment you burst into life in the test tube to your irrelevant death, no-one suffers, no-one complains, and no-one is ever alone. A world where you are constantly stimulated by synthetic machinery, and require nothing but one or two pills to escape a stray emotion here or there, or induce a mental holiday to avoid the possibility of facing them. No worries.
And also no art, no literature or true creation of any kind. No gods or spirituality, no adventure or surprises or passion of any kind, ever. No parents or families or friends or intimacy. No scientific advancement. No private thoughts. Everyone is for everyone else. Your time must be shared. You can never experience solitude and reflection. You can never have autonomy. Your words are not your own. Your body is not inviolate. If you are not like this you are shipped off to an island with the few other defective members of society who are like you. Whether that is lucky or unlucky is a matter of perspective.
Effing frightening stuff if ever I heard it. I loved this book more after I finished than when I was reading, because the challenge wasn't in accepting the world the characters inhabited, as it was really easy to digest because of its intentional tone (extraordinarily light, as if you're on a drug inducing you to be that way the entire time, hint hint), but accepting the world around me as being frighteningly familiar to it in some unsettling ways. It doesn't wholly reflect the world right now, but when it does it is in big ways. Though short it feeds enough into the psyche about our society as a whole, how we need suffering for heroism, mutual passion for love, pain and rejection for inspiration, and loss to understand the value of life - without these things creativity and progression are impossible. In Brave New World they are unwanted. Even sitting here now I'm remembering things that have so much more meaning after digesting than they did at the time. I suppose that's a good sign, being able to think...
Having been released in the 40s (and so forgiveness must be given for some more outdated things in it), I'm sure it was a frightening vision of the future like its fellow 1984. Nowadays, maybe it doesn't always get the same reception because we're slipping into a distracted world and are conditioned to not see it coming...even like it... There are so many things I could write now the layers are springing up, but I would probably write an essay. Or a book. It'd probably be something very much like this one.
As an added bonus, there was was also that moment I realised the film Demolition Man was clearly inspired by this book. That was a revelation.