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The telescreen.

In George Orwell's 1984, the telescreen is mentioned 119 times, significantly more times than is Big Brother himself. It is central to the story in a way that is not true of, say, the Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty) or even Newspeak, the diminished form of English invented by Oceania's overlords to gradually eliminate the possibility independent, free thought among members of the Party, those ruling over Oceania. The telescreen made privacy nonexistent with its two-way channels of communication; citizens were continually closely monitored by the shadowmen of the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) and the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) 24/7/365, so that any deviation from correct Party behavior and thought by any citizen would be immediately caught and the malefactor taken to Miniluv for reprogramming and, ultimately, execution. The telescreens were under the complete control of the government, and ordinary citizens had no recourse against the control over their lives which the telescreens enabled.

Or did they?

In a magnificent demonstration of technology's ability to engender new -- and radically liberating -- new forms of creativity, Peter Huber's Orwell's Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest reimagines George Orwell's 1984 from the computer's point of view. First scanning all of Orwell's writings into his computer, Huber then used that computer and Orwell's own language to completely rewrite the novel. Alternating between fiction and nonfiction, Huber directed Orwell's plot into a new and surprising conclusion while seamlessly weaving his own explanations and arguments into the new novel. Orwell's Revenge challenges the grand dystopian vision of infernal misery forever, envisioning a world of ever-increasing information, equal opportunity, and personal liberty that is the exact antithesis of George Orwell's 1984.

"Reach for all hope, / Ye who enter here." Purgatory and, finally, Heaven to Orwell's Inferno, Orwell's Revenge, the perfect answer to the hellishness of 1984, shows us the way out of the latter using the same technology that Eric Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell, so detested.

Posts from This Journal by “books” Tag


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2016 08:03 am (UTC)
Also somewhat relevant - Charles Stross' "Big Brother Iron", which posits a "contemporary" Brezhnevite IngSoc where the PC revolution has never come and the mainframes that monitor the telescreens (along with the Party that controls them) have become hopelessly corrupted. But there's a Young Turk faction of the Inner Party working to change things...
Feb. 14th, 2016 07:37 am (UTC)
I read that! A really great story. Stross is one of my favorite authors because he knows the impact that advances in technology have on cultures and societies. Good to know there's a fellow fan of Stross out there. :-)
Feb. 14th, 2016 10:22 am (UTC)
I like most of his writing, but the man himself - well, I met him once before the whole Hugo kerfuffle erupted, and it was very clear to me that he was surprised and confused that somebody like me liked his work. (He's quite the Marxist.)
Feb. 22nd, 2016 02:22 am (UTC)
That's too bad. Apparently he suspends disbelief in other types of societies when he writes his fiction, or doesn't think about Marxism then at all. Good thing, too -- he is one of the finest science-fiction writers on the planet. :-)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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