Island – Aldous Huxley

The final novel from Aldous Huxley, Island is a provocative counterpoint to his worldwide classic Brave New World, in which a flourishing, ideal society located on a remote Pacific island attracts the envy of the outside world.

Personally I have always preferred Island to Brave New World, although Huxley is more famous for the latter.

In his final novel, which he considered his most important, Aldous Huxley transports us to the remote Pacific island of Pala, where an ideal society has flourished for 120 years.

Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world. A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala, and events are set in motion when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there. What Faranby doesn’t expect is how his time with the people of Pala will revolutionize all his values and—to his amazement—give him hope.

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CHAT

The social media giants of the early decades in the 21st century have died and been replaced by ‘CHAT’, a new artificial intelligence network built on a powerful quantum computer, affectionately called the ‘Engine’.

Avoiding the failings of its predecessors and free from the misuse of data, CHAT has become ubiquitous. A key feature, powered by the Engine, is the network’s ability to translate any language to the language of the user, in real time; meaning that everyone around the world can speak to each other as if they are all speaking the same language.
CHAT’s artificial intelligence was developed at a remote campus of Cambridge University in Warwick, England.

The academics at Warwick, led by Professor Nick Caine, continue to search for new languages, both human and non-human, to extend the capabilities of the Engine. CHAT’s public relations executive, Tiffany Hope, spreads the word on all the latest news from Warwick to the entire global network of CHAT users.Under the management of Professor Caine and his team at Warwick, the Engine polls the internet for signals to translate around the entire planet and even beyond, by connecting to a wide range of equipment ranging from wildlife monitors to space stations. But one such ‘signal’ that initially eludes the translation abilities of the Engine gets the attention of one of the university department’s sponsors, the US military intelligence agency. As the mysterious signal, code-named, Alpha285, gradually reveals more about its origins, Nick is subjected to increasing pressure from his sponsors to allow the agency to take control.

Set in a future where the legacy of past generations’ environmental abuse has come home to roost, and human ingenuity has created innovative solutions that attempt to arrest the damage, the pursuit of knowledge about Alpha285 becomes fraught with danger and intrigue.

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