1984 gets new life in audio production. Review by Violet Kane

Book Cover

In Print
This audiobook version of 1984 will be a welcome discovery for old fans and curious newcomers.

Originally written in 1948 by George Orwell, this book is both a literary and pop culture classic. As the brief preface tells us, Orwell was sympathetic to socialist ideology during the first half of the twentieth century, but became disturbed, among others in his intellectual circle, by the policies of Stalinism and their ramifications. In 1984, he imagines a world where every nation on earth has been absorbed under the power of three communist-style super states. Protagonist Winston Smith lives in Oceania, under the leadership of Big Brother, a figure-head incarnation of party power. He works in a division of the party apparatus where print media is fastidiously rewritten and reissued according to party demand. Winston watches first-hand as the party repetitively rewrites history, and he becomes increasingly rebellious on a philosophical level—a dangerous enterprise in a world where he is under constant party surveillance and where the inner circle of Big Brother is working on new techniques and technologies for reading thought and emotion.

Book Cover

On Audio
In many ways, the horrific future vision presented by 1984 is timeless, showing the frightening possibilities of a world where personal privacy has been completely corroded by intrusive government forces. On the other hand, the communist context is specific to the twentieth century, and readers born in its last decade or so may not be affected by it as much as previous generations who remember at least some portion of their lives when the Soviet mythos had not yet been shattered. This novel, however, is both well-written and centered on its main character's decisions and experiences. Any well-read fan of alternative reality fiction should have no trouble entering into this world and feeling the high stakes of its conflicts. Both new readers and those revisiting this book after a few years will find this story fresh and engaging as told by the revered voice of Frank Muller in the recent audio CD version.

Fans of most alternative reality genres, and even those of mainstream genres, will find this book—a classic both of literature and science fiction—accessible on audio or in print.

Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.

Alternative Reality Web Zine: ISSN# 1559-3037

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