1994

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1994 is a classic dystopian novel by Seoirse Fferreir, famous for its "Newparol", a hybrid language of Brithenig and English. It was first published in England in 1949, and was written during the course of the Second Great War, which at the time seemed to be an unending conflict. It is this sentiment that creates the settng for the book.

The novel gets its name from the then-futuristic year in which it was supposed to be written. The nations of the world have coalesced into a small number of superstates - Britannia (formed from the Commonwealth of Nations - the British Isles, the NAL, Southern Africa, Australasia, the Caribbean and Guyana), America (The Americas aside the NAL-SLC), Eurasia (Western Europe, Turkey, the Sahara, Ethiopia and the Russian Empire), and East Asia (China and Japan). These great superpowers are constantly engaged in war, in a pattern of shifting alliances (which are, nevertheless, claimed to be permanent), over border regions. Ironically these "border regions" are where very few live, given to be the Polar region (most of America north of St Lawrence's and the great lakes, Alaska, the midwest, most of Russia East of the Urals, Greenland, Iceland) Most of subsaharan Africa (which is either A) not at the coast or B) not the commonweal bit), Antarctica, Southeast Asia, India, and the Oceania.

At the top of Britannia is Father Britain, a possibly fictitious individual, who is the center of a Cult of Personality. The ideology of Britannia is Britsoc (Britannnic Socialism), a totalitarian ideology that operates in the name of socialism but is laced with a fierce ethnic nationalism. Among its tenets are that the British Peoples are the pinnacle of human evolution. The idea of Top Nation is taken to extremes, with all other cultures not only demonized but rendered illegal. Learning languages on the "Index of Lower Tongues" without government sanction and supervision is a crime.

Within the government of Britannia are many departments--the Bureau of Freedom (police), the Bureau of Truth (propoganda), Bureau of Abundance (rationing), the Bureau of Diplomacy (defense), and the Bureau of Love (incarceration and punishment). These enforce a national order that takes cultural traits common to the British to their most extreme. In terms of the novel's plot, this is most obvious in Britannia's official policies regarding sex. Likewise, many convicted felons in Britannia are recruited by the Bureau of Love for participation in savage team sports which are intensely popular events, and nearly the only form of entertainment available--a violent perversion of "sport." A similar detail is how British Subjects are encouraged to view blandness as a virtue in food, that spices or sweetness is a vice that saps the will. Among other things, the sheer number of laws means it is impossible for anyone to avoid being a criminal so the State and Party have a perfect excuse to arrest anyone they desire.

Plot


Spoiler Warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.


The novel takes place in Castreleon, in the renamed West Britain. The title character Neville Baker, is an inspector at the Bureau of Freedom (Liberburo). He spends his days researching puinsadcrimes where infractors or puinsadcrimers break the Freedom laws.

Baker is deeply affected when he is called in on the arrest of two puinsadcrimers who have engaged in reprocrime, having had several children, together, without government sanction and through sexual intercourse. This fuels the fires of Baker's loneliness and sets him on the path that ultimately leads to his destruction.

Baker looks at his life, his marriage, his artificially inseminated (artsem) children who spend their school years in separate Party-run schools, and their summers in the "Children's Party," where they do arts and crafts of Father Britain and send them home to mummy and daddy.

Baker at first travels across town to speak with his wife at her home, where she refuses to see him, accusing him of reprocrime, and he leaves. He passes a sleepless night, and the next day, when cataloguing evidence of the puinsadcrimers, he uncovers a copy of the heretical "Çabrujer Film."

For days his thoughts and dreams are haunted by the film, and Baker decides eventually to steal it and view it for himself. As he goes to steal it Baker accidentally kills one of his fellow inspectors and goes on the lam. He remains "free" for an unspecified amount of time, and falls in with a group of "Libertines," people living in the country in holes and grottoes, under the radar of Father Britain and the party. The Libertines engage in polygamous sexual reproduction for the betterment of their clan and genepool, which is both appealing and appalling to Baker.

He admits in the book that his time among them was probably closer to a few weeks than a month. He is soon caught, along with the Libertines and his "wives," at least two of whom are pregnant. They are taken to the Liberburo and brought to Chamber 101, the infamous torture chamber where he expects to meet his demise. But instead, he saves himself. That is the purpose of Chamber 101, because the only way to avoid his own most terrible fear (in this case, being eaten alive by rats) is to push a button that will inflict the horror on his pregnant wives instead. It is all a bluff, but the act of pressing the button shatters his will. His interrogator congratulates Neville on his "breakthrough."

When next we see Neville, he sits blissfully alone, playing chess through the newspaper, sipping his triple-sec. There is a game of Super Ball being broadcast, and he thinks he should be upset for some reason when one of his wives is disembowelled as part of the game. But he refuses to dwell on that. Father Britain is with him, always, and he needs no one else. Not even himself. Father Britain is enough.


End Spoiler Warning


Effects on the World

Although some hailed 1994 as a prophetic work when it was first published in 1949, the general reaction to the novel was one of either indignation or indifference. Several critics questioned the author's patriotism and sanity, while others decried its "oversimplification." Indeed, it was something of a surprise the novel found its way to print given the paper shortage following GW2. But the publishers did persevere, and the book found an audience, albeit slowly. The controversy, some believe, actually aided in sales.

The book remained in print off and on, supported by a steady trickle of sales not only in the Federated Kingdoms but also the NAL. The first French-language edition was published in 1952, and while French critics were kinder than most English, Scottish and Cambrian ones, most still found considerable fault. The reading public, however, proved more enthusiastic. Other foreign editions proceeded and by 1965 the book had also seen at least moderate success in such countries as Xliponia, Italy, Alta California, Oregon, Judea, Louisianne (where it was a best-seller as early as 1960) and Aragon. Not surprisingly, the book was banned in Russia and other Snorist states until the 1990s.

By 1970, however, 1994 had begun to find a large new audience in the new generation dissatisfied with the world as their elders had made it. In particular the Anti-Snorist Movement took the book to heart and accounted for swelling book sales that reached a peak in 1977. Among many such groups, part of their slang was to refer to the worst aspects of a given nation as "Father America" or "Mother Scotland" or the like. Even ostensively Conservative groups were finding themselves using catchphrases from the book ("Chamber 101" "Bureau of Love" etc.) as part of modern political dialogue.

Growth of government surveillance in modern times has been seen as a realization of Fferreir's warning, and any government agency that's improving their surveillance will often be referred to as the Puinsadpol (this has proven especially true of the CBI and NIO). More than one activist has seen parallels between the author's nightmare vision and such issues as the seemingly unending warfare involving Deseret, the empire-building of Florida-Caribbea, the regime of Saddaam Hussayn in Iraaq and the legacy of the Securitate in Oltenia (where efforts to purge anyone associated with the former secret police have sometimes brought back memories of the White Regency).

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