We: Introduction by Will Self

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Random House, 2007 - Dystopias - 224 pages
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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY WILL SELF

The citizens of the One State live in a condition of 'mathematically infallible happiness'. D-503 decides to keep a diary of his days working for the collective good in this clean, blue city state where nature, privacy and individual liberty have been eradicated. But over the course of his journal D-503 suddenly finds himself caught up in unthinkable and illegal activities - love and rebellion.

Banned on its publication in Russia in1921, We is the first modern dystopian novel and a satire on state control that has once again become chillingly relevant.

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We

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In Zamyatin�s 1924 futuristic novel, humankind has lost its individuality, and everyone is reduced to a number. Protagonist D-503, a mathematician for the One State, thinks he is going insane but ... Read full review

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An literature undergrad's dream. Nothing new about the human condition. Good plot though.
In a 1973 interview Vonnegut discussed his inspiration to write the book:[2]
I was working for General
Electric at the time, right after World War II , and I saw a milling machine for cutting the rotors on jet engines, gas turbines. This was a very expensive thing for a machinist to do, to cut what is essentially one of those Brancusi forms. So they had a computer-operated milling machine built to cut the blades, and I was fascinated by that. This was in 1949 and the guys who were working on it were foreseeing all sorts of machines being run by little boxes and punched cards. Player Piano was my response to the implications of having everything run by little boxes. The idea of doing that, you know, made sense, perfect sense. To have a little clicking box make all the decisions wasn't a vicious thing to do. But it was too bad for the human beings who got their dignity from their jobs.
In the same interview he acknowledges that he "cheerfully ripped off the plot of Brave New World, whose plot had been cheerfully ripped off from Yevgeny Zamyatin's We."[2]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Player_Piano
I am beginning to think that Vonnegut's vision is what is going to happen. A fairly significant minority cannot do anything but manual labor; another significant minority are doing manual labor but wish they could be doing something more fulfilling. When the jobs for those who cannot do anything but those jobs disappear and the jobs that are the only jobs available for the already disaffected disappear, a large disgruntled unemployed or under-employed underclass will be created just as in Player Piano. We can't all just take in each other's washing.
 

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About the author (2007)

Yevgeny Zamyatin was born in 1884. He was arrested as a student in 1905 by Tsarist police for being a Bolshevik. He was then sent to England to work on Russian ice breakers in Newcastle. He has been described as a 'dapper, tweedy naval engineer'. He was also a fan of H.G. Wells . After the revolution in 1917 he returned to Russia and worked for Gorky. He was arrested again by the Soviet authorities in 1919 and 1922 and forbidden to publish his work. In 1931 Stalin surprisingly granted him permission to move to Paris. He died there in March, 1937.

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