Few surnames are bandied about as much as George Orwell’s, especially in these Orwellian days of the omniscient surveillance state. But Orwell was born in 1903… so how was his vision of the future so startlingly clear? Perhaps because he tended more towards political essays and criticisms, he was better able to accurately forecast the coming ages of authoritarianism than many of the other greatest sci-fi authors who preferred to wear rose-colored goggles when painting their literary portraits of tomorrow. Working as a cop while his peers ran off to university, Orwell didn’t fit the mold for a typical author… but then, he wasn’t a typical author, and certainly not a typical science fiction one. After stints teaching and selling books, he decided to immerse himself in the squalor of northern English slums, collecting raw data about the living conditions and daily hardships faced by the citizenry. He began attending political rallies, listening with interest at the harried cries of speakers who held total sway over their impoverished audiences. But his seemingly passive doings attracted the attention of the State, and soon the Special Branch fixed an eye on him, which they kept there for twelve years! Truly he lived under the watch of “Big Brother,” before he’d yet invented the phrase. Meanwhile, during WWII, his spouse took on work with the Censorship Department at London’s Ministry of Information…yet another event in an endless chain which led inexorably to his writing of the dystopian tour de force 1984.
Best known for 1984.
See George Orwell's complete works here.