Rating: 3 stars
I really enjoyed this futuristic dystopian SciFi tale. Tempting to read all kinds of things into it, given the time of its publication and subsequent banning in Russia, but actually I think it’s just a reflection on how things can go wrong when you try to make everything equal by eliminating the complexities of human nature, and how conforming to the prevalent culture can sometimes feel safe, even when it’s not. Pertinent to all societies, not just overtly oppressive ones.
I thought it was an interesting allegory. I don’t know much about Yevgeny Zamyatin, just that he fell out with the Russian Communist Party almost immediately after the October Revolution, and that this work was published the year before consolidation of the soviet states started, with 3 years to go before Stalin seized total power. Part of me read it as allegory and premonition of how the soviet experiment could go badly wrong, part of me was attracted by the simplicity of a society built on logic and mathematical principles, part of me felt sad for D-503. He came close to experiencing the fullness of life, but gave in to the cultural norm, because not feeling and not questioning is safer. I thought the characters were believable, and really liked the feistiness of I-330. It was quite sobering reading.