The Forum: Journal of History


Riley Sanders


Broadly, this paper is an effort in complicating traditional readings of eugenic themes in science fiction. Two landmark novels, Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), are highlighted as representative of the early and late stages of eugenics. By focusing on the troubling historical context surrounding these authors, I denounce the simple reading of these works as merely “dystopian”. Scholars like Francis Fukuyama advance these simplistic readings by instinctively assuming that Wells and Huxley were against eugenics. This paper continues the tradition that David Bradshaw popularized in his book The Hidden Huxley, which argues that biographical details of science fiction authors are relevant when extracting meaning from their work. Looking at the crossroads between science fiction, popular culture, and technological development, this paper argues that a historical interpretation of these incredibly influential works of science fiction will infuse conversations surrounding new genetic technology like CRISPR with the necessary nuance to wisely march into the 21st century.