Boy have I been meaning to read this for a while. I even have a hardcover copy that I got from a bookstore, since it’s not readily available at any of my libraries as an eBook.
I suppose the highest praise to media of this generation (or any earlier generation) is to read it and think it a bit cliché. Casablanca, for example, lurches from trope to trope and you have to remind yourself that these weren’t all tropes when the movie first came out–they were, in fact, the progenitors for many of the media properties we consume today.
So suffice to say, there’s a lot in this book that I found amusing for how often I see it in books I read. I’ve commented on the habit of fantasy/sci-fi writers to have an element of society be opposite from our own world as a matter of fact, such that you can call out the opposite of it (i.e., the opposite of the opposite being what is there in our world). Such as in A Conspiracy of Truths, the protagonist is in a society where marriage is a business arrangement of multiple people and who find marriage between one woman and one man as a weird aberration. I won’t say that Huxley is the first to come up with the trope, but it’s in clear evidence here–what we would call licentiousness is healthy and normal, and what we consider the highest expression of romantic love is abhorrent and unnatural.
There’s also a strong 1984 vibe to it all, at least for me. There’s the proto-dystopian world we live in and a few characters who inhabit it and start to chafe at the rules. There are large questions about what the point of it all is (if everyone is Happy, is no one Happy? etc) and a central architect-like figure who knows all, remembers all, and refuses to countenance that there’s a rationale for going back to the way we were.