By Anthony Burgess

Creative, chilling and darkly comedian, 1985 combines a devastating critique of Orwell's 1984 with a terrifying imaginative and prescient of the long run. As memorable as A Clockwork Orange, it's as strong and unsettling as whatever Burgess has written. First released in 1978, its strategies and ideas nonetheless carry especially true this day.

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Sample text

We hung on the iron rings with our hands and our feet. We could see nothing below us. And above us the hole open upon the sky grew smaller and smaller, till it came to be the size of a button. But still we went down. Then our foot touched the ground. We rubbed our eyes, for we could not see. Then our eyes became used to the darkness, but we could not believe what we saw. No men known to us could have built this place, nor the men known to our brothers who lived before us, and yet it was built by men.

There have been plenty of egoists in human history, and there have been plenty of worshipers, too. The egoists were generally cynical “realists” (à la Hobbes), who despised morality; the worshipers, by their own statement, were out of this world. Their clash was an instance of the fact-value dichotomy, which has plagued Western philosophy for many centuries, making facts seem meaningless and values baseless. Ayn Rand’s concept of an “anthem to the ego” throws out this vicious dichotomy. Her Objectivist philosophy integrates facts with values—in this instance, the actual nature of man with an exalted and secular admiration for it.

All men are good and wise. It is only we, Equality 7-2521, we alone who were born with a curse. For we are not like our brothers. And as we look back upon our life, we see that it has ever been thus and that it has brought us step by step to our last, supreme transgression, our crime of crimes hidden here under the ground. We remember the Home of Infants where we lived till we were five years old, together with all the children of the City who had been born in the same year. The sleeping halls there were white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds.

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