I read Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and absolutely loved it. I already knew the connection to George Orwell’s 1984, so decided to read that as well. I was shocked by the bluntness and almost evil of 1984. The society created in 1984 is far too extreme and unrealistic and is therefore not as believable. Little Brother is talking about things that are almost happening and are debates in our day-to-day life. Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother has taken concepts from Orwell’s 1984 modernized them, and in my opinion revived them to a shockingly believable portrayal. Because the utopian society of Orwell is so bizarre and out of date, it doesn’t seem as realistic as Little Brother that is modern, accurate, and is actually a likely scenario for the state of the world. Comparing them both, Little Brother is relatable and almost mesmerizing. 1984 is traumatizing and almost too twisted to seem real.
In 1984, Orwell’s depicts a utopian society with no strings attached. It’s blunt terrifying and affective. The book takes place in a super state called Oceana, which is ruled by tyrannical group who call themselves The Party. In this book, we follow a man named Winston Smith. Orwell uses the struggles in Winston’s day-to-day life to show you how warped is the civilization in which he exists. Anyone who speaks out against The Party will disappear without a trace. Even thoughts against the party could get you killed. There are no written laws, only things The Party deems as rebellious. There was a thought police, whose only job was to watch people for any rebellious signs. In schools, kids were taught to spy on their parents and to report anything to the thought police. In every house and all over the city, there are massive Telescreens that not only display the phony news of The Party, but also watch your every move. Privacy was a nonexistent thing.
Anyone who rebelled was taken to the ministry of love for “treatment” and “reintegration.” The first stage “treatment” is constant physical torture to the point where you will make up any story or betray your closest friend just to make the pain stop. Stage two: They would take you to room 101. It had been mentioned by other prisoners before always with a sense of indescribable terror. In room 101, The Party would exploit you worst fear, essentially breaking you and taking away your identity. Stage three, “reintegration,” is when a Party member would come in and start telling you wonderful things and in your state of agony you wouldn’t realize that it’s all lies. Then, after what could be years of reprograming, they release you back into the world, except it’s not you anymore. You are broken, hardly a shell of what you used to be. You are in a constant state of fear of the party, but at the same time love them, because if you don’t your as good as dead.
The Party could alter anything to its convenience. At the ministry of truth, all of Oceana’s history was kept and altered whenever necessary. People who were war heroes would suddenly find themselves being arrested for treason. Oceana was constantly at war with one of the other two super continents in the world and they where always changing who they where at war with. But if you looked in their records they would state that they’d been at war with the same people as far back as it goes. The Party was slowly recreating History and language to better suit them. They kept publishing dictionaries with fewer and fewer words, therefore, making it impossible to talk about rebellion. There was a way of communicating known as Doublethink. Doublethink was when you say one opinion, but are thinking an entirely different one. It was essentially lying. Usually what you where saying was pro-Party and what you where thinking anti-Party.
When 1984 was written during World War II, it was possible path on which humans could walk. Little brother is a fantastically real portrayal of 1984 that has been “Doctorow-ed” up to fit modern life. It also seems smarter, it hints, and whispers warnings about controlling government’s instead of blasting them in your face.
Both books depict terrifying utopian societies. Little Brother seems the more likely at this moment in time. It is current, takes place in a well-known city, uses real things, and places like the Fast Trak, Bart, and the Bay Bridge. In Little Brother, all the surveillance is done in an as covert way as possible. Also, the odds of the world splitting into three huge super states is not very likely. 1984 surveillance using Teliscreens doesn’t make sense. These days the government would take every step possible to make sure the person they are following doesn’t know they’re being watched. But that’s what makes it so scary.
Little Brother was one of the most realistic books I’ve ever read. It had me looking for and trying to ovoid cameras and made me look at government from a whole new perspective. 1984 is a very well written book, but it’s too dated to influence people in the way it used to. Little Brother has revised 1984 using a modern filter and has made it so believable that I think it has surpassed its original.