Goodreads Review: The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For the most part I like people, even though many of them suck. I am also convinced that the world grows a bit more stupid every day and that we slowly move away from any kind of social evolution. Sure, there’s plenty of technological innovation, and dentistry is a far better experience today, but people don’t seem to be improving.
We still love screwing each other over, arguing about false issues, and murdering each other. Infrastructures are straining under corruption, graft, and greed. Congress is highly polarized and our “representatives” do little beyond hooking their friends up and padding the checking account.
The worst part of it all is that stupid people just keep breeding.
Anthony Burgess, perhaps best known for A Clockwork Orange (most likely you’ve seen the Kubrick film) had this book published in the same year (1962), and it fits nicely along other literary dystopic works such as 1984, Brave New World, and Anthem. However, as much as I loved it, it’s probably not in the same weight class.
The Wanting Seed begins in a world that is vastly overpopulated, and extreme measures have been institutionalized to handle it. People live in tiny box apartments, homosexuality is the social norm (and it’s policed), and everyone eats a protein mush as there just aren’t enough damn cows in the world to handle the load. As you wrap your head around this world (seems like it would be easier to just castrate people instead of implemented totalitarian fabulousness), Burgess throws a curve ball and suddenly society collapses.
Yep, you’re just reading along, dum dum dum dum dum, and hey, the world’s ending.
The citizens of the world respond to their overcrowding and repression by engaging in mass cannibalism, groovy sex parties, and general mayhem. No, this isn’t a spoiler alert, it’s on the damn back of the book, so no comments please. Then, as you would imagine, things level out a bit.
There’s this brainy back story to the book, that Burgess is essentially commenting on the cyclical nature of human history (which you’ll also find in A Clockwork Orange and I’m sure in his other books as well). In short, people suck, they have always sucked, and they will continue to suck. So, why not read a good book and forget about it for a while?