Goodreads Review: The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess

The Wanting SeedThe 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?

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9 thoughts on “Goodreads Review: The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess”

  1. Hey Tom, how’s it goin’?

    The overcrowded problem in the society of this book, with the eventual cannibalistic behavior that eventually follows, reminds me of the current madness going on in Shaanxi, China, where Authorities there have been brought under severe criticism last month for going over-board in their One-Child Per Family Law by exterminating–yes, murdering, an otherwise healthy 7-month old female fetus that its Mother & Father wanted to give birth to & raise!

    On June 2nd, these 5-men burst literally into a home in a rural area of Shaanxi and kidnapped the pregnant young married woman inside named Feng Jianmei, who just moved there recently from the city limits where you can only have one child. In the rural area you’re allowed to have two! (That’s why they moved there!) Any more kids than that & you must pay an overwhelmingly high “Birthing Tax/Fine” of 40,000 RMB–that amounts to over $6,200.00 in US dollars–or the Authorities can literally kidnap the pregnant woman and kill the baby while it’s still inside her!!

    In this case these 5-Henchmen took her to a “birth-quota” Hospital, tied her to a bed, threw a pillowcase over her head, then injected her female infant’s brain with poisons to kill it right through Feng’s stomach!! With NO anesthetic given to the young wife at all! All because she already had an 8-year old daughter, and hadn’t registered her re-location to the rural-countryside yet with authorities! But when she told them she’d moved already, they wouldn’t listen.

    But these Degenerates had to kidnap her FROM the RURAL house to begin with—so DUH!! Maybe she really DOES live there in the countryside now! Duh!”–Then they also forced her to go over 2-days in excruciating labor–again with NO anesthetic–and delivered her dead daughter–in which they simply tossed the dead baby onto the bed next to the traumatized young mother, and left!

    The international outrage has spilled from everywhere towards the Chinese government for this act, which left the poor young wife suicidal. Although they’ve apologized to her & her Husband and suspended a few of the birth-quota employees, that is still never going to be enough to make-up for what they’ve put this family through.

    Go to: . I warn you, Tom, it is a graphic, terrible image. But reading about this poor family’s plight will make you think of the book you just wrote about, how the human race sucks and basically always has. But I believe there’s still a lot of good in people, too….

    1. Wow. When I hear about atrocities such as this, I can only shake my head. In our time on the planet, what have we truly improved upon? We are still animals. Beasts. And I agree, there is much good in people. I see it every day working in education. My wife is a social worker. We do what we can. Thank you for sharing.

      1. I have to say Thank You BOTH for the jobs that you do! 🙂 It’s nothing short of a “Labor-of-Love” to work in education nowadays, and also social work! My best childhood friend had to leave the Board of Education in New York over 25-years ago because she couldn’t deal with all the stresses relating to the occupation of teaching.

        Yet her Sister (another Best Friend of mine) was able to handle it–and is now in Retirement Preparation Classes for next year’s Bon-Voyage!! I couldn’t be more proud of her!

        I applaud all of you for facing this struggle every day. Just know that “doing what you can” is more than sufficient because at least you both care enough to apply yourselves to these children selflessly…..most people could care less because of how society has adversely changed a lot of these kids in a negative manner. That often is what begets adults with warped-behavioral depravity, to turn on weaker adults with brutal insensitivity like you read about with China.

        Do keep up the great work Tom. I’m proud of you guys for making a real difference! 🙂

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