I was fascinated by the worlds Orwell and Huxley created and Zamyatin provided another. I read it first in my early 20s and it certainly put the other ...
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The original dystopian satire.
Ruled by the totalitarian Benefactor, the One State is a glass city surrounded by a Green Wall which separates its citizens from nature. All human activities - even sex - are reduced to mathematical equations. The State believes that free will causes unhappiness, so it is eradicated. Individuals have numbers rather than names.
D-503 is a mathematician who forms a relationship with a woman, I-330, who is part of the resistance (there's a resistance in every dystopia). As the novel progresses, the conflict between his dedication to the State and his feelings for I-330 drive D-503 almost to madness.
At the same time, the State’s mathematical precision becomes corrupted by chaos. Zamyatin based the novel on his experiences in the Russian revolutions and his work in the Tyne shipyards in World War II.
It may seem a bit dated now - Zamyatin’s vision of the future has been somewhat overtaken by later developments - but there's no denying the power of the central story and the universality of its message.
We is the grandfather of the dystopian genre, and was hugely influential on later works from Orwell and Huxley (though he claimed otherwise) to The Prisoner.
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