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Places to Go: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Written by Rachael Norris, 4th September 2020

The theme for our #DailyReadings in September is beginnings and endings. In this week's audio adventure we're travelling through time and space with Chris Lynn who reads an extract from We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

This week’s Places to Go piece illuminates Yevgeny Zamyatin’s ‘We’ – a novel set in a future in which all traces of individuality are dissolved by the overarching One State. These first two chapters are written by our protagonist D-503, a mathematician who has helped build a mathematically pure and infallible equation for happiness.

As is the case with the best science fiction, it speaks to our present in vital ways and helps us look afresh, in this instance at our own relationship with technology and our obsession with productivity, wellness, happiness. Brilliantly written that provokes so many questions from us.

Would you want to be part of a system where your happiness was mathematically determined and maximised? What is the cost of being part of a human hive? Do we see any beauty in a mechanised dance of ‘perfect–non freedom’?

‘The line of the One State – it is a straight line. A great, divine, precise, wise, straight line – the wisest of lines’ - We,  Yevgeny Zamyatin.

Listen to the first two diary entries from the man at the centre of this story, D-503…

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