A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main
entrance the words, Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre,
and, in a shield, the World State's motto, Community, Identity,
The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for
all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room
itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking
some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but
finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a
laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the
workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured
rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow
barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living
substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after
luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.
"And this," said the Director opening the door, "is the Fertilizing
Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as
the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the
scarcely breathing silence, the absent-minded, so-liloquizing hum or
whistle, of absorbed concentration. A troop of newly arrived students,
very young, pink and callow, followed nervously, rather abjectly, at the
Director's heels. Each of them carried a notebook, in which, whenever
the great man spoke, he desperately scribbled. Straight from the horse's
mouth. It was a rare privilege. The D.H.C. for Central London always
made a point of personally conducting his new students round the various
"Just to give you a general idea," he would explain to them. For of
course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do
their work intelligently—though as little of one, if they were to
be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as
every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are
intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fretsawyers and
stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.
"Tomorrow," he would add, smiling at them with a slightly menacing
geniality, "you'll be settling down to serious work. You won't have time
for generalities. Meanwhile ... "
Meanwhile, it was a privilege. Straight from the horse's mouth into the
notebook. The boys scribbled like mad.
Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room.
He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he
was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty?
Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And anyhow the question didn't
arise; in this year of stability, a.f. 632, it didn't occur to you to
"I shall begin at the beginning," said the D.H.C. and the more zealous
students recorded his intention in their notebooks: Begin at the
beginning. "These," he waved his hand, "are the incubators." And
opening an insulated door he showed them racks upon racks of numbered
test-tubes. "The week's supply of ova. Kept," he explained, "at blood
heat; whereas the male gametes," and here he opened another door, "they
have to be kept at thirty-five instead of thirty-seven. Full blood heat
sterilizes." Rams wrapped in theremogene beget no lambs.
Still leaning against the incubators he gave them, while the pencils
scurried illegibly across the pages, a brief description of the modern
fertilizing process; spoke first, of course, of its surgical
introduction -- "the operation undergone voluntarily for the good of
Society, not to mention the fact that it carries a bonus amounting to
six months' salary"; continued with some account of the technique for
preserving the excised ovary alive and actively developing; passed on to
a consideration of optimum temperature, salinity, viscosity; referred to
the liquor in which the detached and ripened eggs were kept; and,
leading his charges to the work tables, actually showed them how this
liquor was drawn off from the test-tubes; how it was let out drop by
drop onto the specially warmed slides of the microscopes; how the eggs
which it contained were inspected for abnormalities, counted and
transferred to a porous receptacle; how (and he now took them to watch
the operation) this receptacle was immersed in a warm bouillon
containing free-swimming spermatozoa -- at a minimum concentration of
one hundred thousand per cubic centimetre, he insisted; and how, after
ten minutes, the container was lifted out of the liquor and its contents
reexamined; how, if any of the eggs remained unfertilized, it was again
immersed, and, if necessary, yet again; how the fertilized ova went back
to the incubators; where the Alphas and Betas remained until definitely
bottled; while the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons were brought out again,
after only thirty-six hours, to unde rgo Bokanovsky's Process.
"Bokanovsky's Process," repeated the Director, and the students
underlined the words in their little notebooks.
One egg, one embryo, one adult—normality. But a bokanovskified egg
will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninetysix buds,
and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo
into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only
one grew before. Progress.
"Essentially," the D.H.C. concluded, "bokanovskification consists of a
series of arrests of development. We check the normal growth and,
paradoxically enough, the egg responds by budding."
Responds by budding. The pencils were busy.
He pointed. On a very slowly moving band a rack-full of testtubes was
entering a large metal box, another rack-full was emerging. Machinery
faintly purred. It took eight minutes for the tubes to go through, he
told them. Eight minutes of hard X-rays being about as much as an egg
can stand. A few died; of the rest, the least susceptible divided into
two; most put out four buds; some eight; all were returned to the
incubators, where the buds began to develop; then, after two days, were
suddenly chilled, chilled and checked ...
Excerpted from "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. Copyright © 2006 by Aldous Huxley. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.