RICK K. REUT
I was born in a small Belarusian town called Borisov, which was still a part of the USSR in the
ice-cold-war winter of a more than symbolic 1984, in a world so hopelessly Orwellian that it is still
falling apart from sleepless dreams to become brave new. This may be one of the reasons for my first
Growing up on American Movies and British Rock Music made me Bilingual. Trilingual, if you count the
dying Belarusian language we were customarily made to study at school. I could even go as far as calling
myself “quad-lingual” every time I think of the revolting bits and pieces of the minced German tongue
some teachers tried their worst to force down my throat in college. But, to the pseudo-patriotic pride
and pleasure of an unnaturally born Brit, they failed miserably. However, as an outcome of the
conditioned reflex I acquired back then, I still run for a plastic bag each time I hear the Reich
Kanzler open her mouth on TV.
An avid reader of American and English literature since high school, starting with Jack London’s Martin
Eden, I have always been madly in love with the language and its literary legacy. This love may also be
responsible for the monstrous mixture of an American Englishman at heart and an Australian of New
Zealand’s breed somewhere below the equatorial belt I am today. Yes, and a Belarusian neck up, which I
try my best to hide behind a philosopher’s beard in shame for my native country’s current political
I began to write lyrics in English around the age of 15, in Russian around 18, in prose around 20, and in
letters around the whole wide world in two years of unrequited affection that made me consider the
pastime seriously. And so I wrote. Mostly for and to myself, but then more and more frequently to
others. Despite the latter’s encouragement, I’ve never tried publishing outside the campus community.
That is, not till now.
Having studied up to a BA in both literature and philosophy in 2006 and 2010, respectively, I also happen
to be the author of two theses: “The Problem of Post-Gender Identity in Contemporary Social Theory” (in
Russian; Department of Philosophy, European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania) and “Pulp Fiction
2, from Shakespeare 2 Tarantino and Back, an Inter-Textual Language Analysis of the Evolution of the
Dramatic Genre from the 16th Century Play to the 20th Century Screenplay” (in English; St. Petersburg
State University, Russia, in close collaboration with Bard College (USA).
All this academic abracadabra, however, is hardly of any help when it comes to making the mentioned
sleepless dreams come true unless someone gives them a little literary lift.
Even Braver New World State
The story is a sequel and a sort of a counterpoint to Aldous Huxley’s classic modernist masterpiece, Brave New World. It takes place seventy-seven summers since that time.
The World State has changed considerably, having taken a bio-technological turn towards transsexualism, on the one hand, and technology-provided social communism, on the other. The only place this post-gender and post-capitalist progress hasn’t pervaded yet is the reservation area of so-called Isolated Islands, where Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson were to be exiled at the end of the original book.
The protagonist of this story is Bernard’s grandson, Adam Marx, who, being disappointed with his life on the world’s margins, longs for the Mainland. But it looks like his dream can never come true, for there is no place for a naturally born man in a society of biotechnological mutants. Fortunately or unfortunately for him, however, his cravings happen to coincide with an ongoing campaign of one of the ten current World State’s Controllers, who is in pursuit of Its own political as well as personal purposes.
The initial incentive for writing Even Braver New World was my semi-sexual, semi-scientific interest in the phenomenon of transsexualism. One of the outcomes of that interest became my BA thesis at the Department of Social and Political Philosophy of the European Humanities University in Vilnius, Lithuania, where I happened to be studying at that time. The title of the thesis was “The Problem of Post-Gender Identity in Contemporary Social Theory.”
As I was toying with the idea in my head, it occurred to me that the best way to support some of the speculations concerning the currently forming trans-human society would be by writing a work of fiction similar to the one that Aldous Huxley had published in the first part of the previous century.
At first, I wanted to turn it into an integral part of my thesis, which would follow the footnotes to the analytical section. Also, being convinced that no novel narrated nowadays can possibly be called “novel”, that is, new in the full sense of the word (for the forerunning tradition, thanks to exhaustive experimentation with all possible genres, plots and styles appears to have drained the literary soil, rendering our post-postmodern age unable to offer anything really different, thus inevitably condemning any attempt in this area to nothing but – direct or indirect, deliberate or chance, conscious or unconscious – simulations and repetitions of the past), I made up my mind to tap into the existing tradition by merging with it the same way a small stream merges with a bigger river before running into one immense inter-textual ocean.
After considering Huxley’s Brave New World, the choice of the “bigger river” seemed obvious. The same way Tom Stoppard had waded into Shakespeare’s sea by writing his “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” on the outskirts of Hamlet, and Huxley himself had borrowed bountifully from the same source, starting with the name he took from the “Tempest” and continuing to develop ideas loaned from Plato, Marx and Freud, to name just a few, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the famous.
Alas, as it could have been expected, the bureaucratic stiffness of the academia barred my way to success through this channel, forcing me to confine the work to its analytical part alone. But it appears to have been for the best, for it gave me a chance to revise the book and bring it a bit closer to perfection than it had been in the beginning, when the waters of my inter-textual stream were still way too muddy. However, having been cleansed of most of the verbal drift weed in the editing duct, it now seem fit not only for drinking but also for filling the pool of other tomes on this topic, currently changing the classic concepts of body and mind.
Even Braver New World was blueprinted to become a trilogy. The titles of the three parts are: Even Braver New World – State, War and Peace.
Inspired by and written on the margins of an acknowledged masterpiece, the book addresses serious social, political and philosophical issues surrounding the subject of sexuality. Most of the protagonists forming the storyline run parallel to the original Brave New World characters, partly mirroring them as their inter-textual counterparts.
For instance, Adam Marx, whose first name is, apparently, an allusion to the first man from the Book of Genesis, is the key character of the story. He is also the grandson of one of the core characters of Huxley’s prequel, Bernard Marx. Having been naturally born in the reservation, just like another Brave New World character, John the Savage, Adam is a 25-year-old virgin working as a mailman at the Isle of Man’s Post Office. Dissatisfied with his life on the Island, he decides to contact his deceased grandfather’s best friend, Helmholtz Watson.
Helmholtz is the only active character of the novel, borrowed directly from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, yet over the past eighty years changed beyond recognition to a semi-senile old man, plagued by regrets, repressed rage and yearning to ease the pain of his miserable existence. He is also posed as the true author of Brave New World under the penname of Aldous Huxley, another post-modernist move of mixing reality with fiction the book happens to be bursting with. Helmholtz introduces Adam to his work and tells him the truth about the Mainland, thus serving as a link between the two worlds: the Brave New and the Even Braver New One.
Another link between them is the current Director of London’s Hatcheries and Conditioning Center, Darlina Downing, who assistants the Chief Caretaking Continent Controller Gianna Globe in conducting a trial program that allows Adam Marx to leave the Isle of Man for the Mainland at the end of the first part.
Gianna Globe, another core character of the novel, is the successor of the Brave New World’s European Controller, Mustapha Mond, mirroring the man as an embodiment of the entire Even Braver New World State. An incredibly seducing and smart she-male of indefinite age, the Controller fights for peaceful integration of the Islanders into the transsexual society, wishing to end a sociopolitical conflict that spawns terrorist resistance. Controller Globe manipulates Adam into serving Its purpose by making him fall in love with Itself, a state in which Adam is willing to do literally anything to please the Controller, including changing his sex and becoming one of the New World State’s citizens.
And finally, Tania Trahova, Chief Caretaking Continent Controller for West Asia with unmistakably Russian roots, is Gianna’s ideological opponent, who suggests a radical solution to the problem of island terrorism. As Gianna’s dark antipode, the West Asian Controller is the closest to what one can call the villain in the story. But, as the end draws near, It, like a lot of us, may turn out to be simply misunderstood.