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1984 (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
In one of my classes today, the teacher began talking about how 1984 is always classified as a science fiction novel because it's supposedly futuristic, but he doesn't see it as futuristic at all. What do you think? Should 1984 be classified as sci-fi?


Senior Member
Futuristic? Hmph. 1984 is twenty years in the past now. :p

More seriously, the book does feature technology that was not available when it was written, so it does fit into the genre of science fiction.

Not all science fiction involves space ships and planets; it does not even have to be futuristic - some of the best science fiction stories are well and truly based on Earth.

In any case, as Orwell explicitly pointed out with the title, it was intended to be a description of a possible society of the future.

The book's main thrust was socio-political, and the technology elements are not dwelt on beyond their social implications, but that doesn't stop it being science fiction. There's nothing wrong (or even particularly unusual) with a book falling into more than one category.

But all that said, I don't think it should be treated as science fiction. Concentrating on it's science fiction element would remove concentration from the far more important social aspects of the book: After all, it is the message of the book that makes it required reading; not the technology.

As a side note, you might want to take a look at Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" as well. It's also a science fiction book with a heavy slant on social commentary, and written some time before 1984, although it's future society is somewhat different from Orwell's. Back when I was at school, I did a comparison essay between the two, which was a very interesting excersise.


Senior Member
As interesting as Brave New World is, Huxley always came across as a bit of a lefty, I'm referring to the anti-industrial undertones (well overtones actually). Also of interest is Ayn Rand's "Anthem" which is essentially 1984 without the technology, well and set in the future which is essentially backward of our time . . . maybe I should stop now.


Senior Member
That response doesn't surprise me one bit but hey, I will say that the motivations of the author make no difference as long as the book is a good read.

Kitten Courna

Senior Member
1984 sadly joins The Picture of Dorian Grey as one of the books I never bothered to finish, although for different reasons.

I suppose I would say it was sci-fi, though classic sci-fi, because of the social commentary. It's a bit of a reach, perhaps, but I usually see in classic sci-fi novels a tendency to focus on individuals and their roles in society. They tend not to be about the technology, the places, or the power structures, but about societal changes caused by those three, or their effect on the individual. Sci-fi can be an outlet for experimenting on people. Or it can be green guts and shiny weapons. 1984, even if it had completely lacked futuristic elements, would've been sci-fi to me.



Senior Member
Guinneapiggy, don't get me wrong, I'll gladly read authors whose motivations I don't share - I agree with little of what Schopenhauer has to say but he is still interesting. The fact that anybody places reverence in the authors bizarre leftist predictions is what gets me, its the same principle as Dickens - I don't care how great an author he was the leftist anti-capitalist slant just turns me off them completely.


Senior Member
My two cents...

Ah, 1984! I just read that. Amazing book - Orwell's simplicity is extremely effective. As for it being science-fiction, it all depends on your definition of the term. It can be considered as such on the grounds that it is prophetic, based in the future (despite the title and the year of the story), but I would classify it instead as a novel in the dystopian genre. A recurring motif in science fiction literature is an utter fear of technology, and to some degree 1984 stresses this with the telescreens and the way technology is abused by the Party. Still, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to classify it as science fiction. I'm not very helpful, am I? :roll:


Senior Member
we're studying 1984 right now at school, and personally I wouldn't classify it as a sci-fi. I know it has all the new, high tech futuristic concepts but that is i guess, just to help Orwell get is point across - the warning of a totalitarian society. the technology was just a tool that was used by the Party and 'Big Brother'.

I sort of see sci-fi books as ones where technology takes over - can't remember the title, but kids playing computer games and 'falls' into the game itself (space invaders?) i see those books as more sci-fi.


I believe Studley adequetly answered this question. 1984 should be taken first as a utopian, socio-political novel, and later as science fiction.
NONONONO! The dystopic backdrop of 1984, is (to quote SKHargan) just that! A backdrop! Its a way for Orwell to pose the immense metaphysical questions that he asks. It breaks my heart when people allow the background to define and *con*fine the underlying concepts that Orwell presents! What is truth?? Is sanity statistical? Just because everyone says the past is one way, is it? Will fear and depression always conquer love and independence? *Sighs*


Well, *sniff* now that I've been quoted I believe I'm an expert on the issue. ;)

Personally, I strongly agree with Meghan. The book doesn't seem to be a work about a totalitarian society and a people's oppression, rather it is about the issues of doublethink, of individuality, of the nature of the past, all those things that Meghan mentioned and more. What can we know? What does knowledge even matter, if we're the only ones who know it? Does knowing something make it real? All those "immense metaphysical questions that he asks." (*returns the favor*)

Doublethink was, to me, the most fascinating concept in the book. Especially because now that I'm aware of it, I see it all over the place. Religion, politics, the academic world...not to offend anybody, it's just interesting what you can find when you know what to look for.

So that said, I'll end this rather pointless post.



Senior Member
we're studying 1984 right now at school, and personally I wouldn't classify it as a sci-fi. I know it has all the new, high tech futuristic concepts but that is i guess, just to help Orwell get is point across - the warning of a totalitarian society. the technology was just a tool that was used by the Party and 'Big Brother'.
Shouldn't whatever technology is used in sci-fi (or magic used in fantasy) merely be tools to help tell whatever story the author is trying to tell? In most sci-fi or fantasy novels (at least the good ones), the novel is about something other than the science or magic that exists in the world. Instead, whatever magic or science is in the world merely helps create the backdrop for the story.
I'm not really that familiar with the sci-fi genre. At all. But taking in what you've all said and having read the book (oh, OK half - I never finished it at college) I'd have to say it was a sci-fi novel.

I have nothing more to say because it has all been said.

Smurf Mamita

Senior Member
It is a science fiction novel. At least I think so. We just had to read it for our summer assignment...Sadly, I could get past the 1st half...that's when I hit SparkNotes...oops. But if the book was taking place in the future when it was written and Orwell uses tools that hadn't been invented yet, then yes, it's a sci-fic. I don't remember the title to this book, but I remember a debate we had in class that day...A guy had built a rocketship, and somebody asked if it was still considered sci-fic even if the invention was now invented. (I hope I made sense.) So yes, I think that this book would be considered a science fiction novel...

The only thing that sucks...is when you have to write a comparing and contrasting essay on 1984 and Persepolis. (That's one really good book. It's different, but it's still really good.)


Senior Member
I've read 1984 and I must say I think it's considered a Science Fiction novel...that's just my opinion. I really didn't like it because it's just too real..with Big Brother watching your every move...The movie was a bit unusual too and sadly Richard Burton's last movie...Oh well *sigh*. Just thought i'd put my two cents worth in.



Senior Member
The movie is not in all representative of the book. It's very different, and not very good. And Richard Burton, though he may be a good actor, was badly miscast. As was the guy who played Big Brother.


I would not classify 1984 as a sci fi book, only because when i view a sci fi movie or read a book, the author or director tries to sort of dazzle you with the possibilities of technology and effects in order to deliver their story. I think there is way more to this story but that the technological aspect does create an uneasy environment.

I think Orwell is actually reacting very much to the changes in his time. Everytime there is change people sort of have to grapple with these new ideas, in his case there is the issue of technology and perhaps the concern of how people are going to use this to manipulate the public consensus. I always thought he was also reacting to his concerns of communism, the distribution of means and what that might mean for everyone.

I study psychology and theres a theory called "Control theory" where those in control often create an environment saturated with fear so that the people can support wars and policies. The people in 1984 are constantly told that theres war between this country and that and the means in which they can survive on a daily basis is cut down so drastically to keep that sort of desperate mentality on the surface.

So all in all i really think it deals mostly with economical issues, issues of political control and the fear of technology and how it is being used during times of warfare and with the invasion of privacy.

I hope this analysis isnt too ridiculous, these are just my own thoughts.



1984 ranks up there as one of my favorite books, along with Animal Farm. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a good historical paralell, but I absolutely love Animal Farm. As for 1984, just the creepiness of the atmosphere makes it worthy enough to be considered a classic. Think about in the 40's-50's when this was written. They barely knew what a television was, let alone a telescreen, or some of the other things in there. The whole government erasing, and rewriting history is a great element. I probably don't even know what I'm talking about, but this is what I think.