I think there are two works of literature that really capture the fears we human beings have about our futures, both of which can be put under the label of social science fiction. One of them is George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which a totalitarian regime has wiped out democracy, civil liberties, and any form of individuality in favor of a system of control, terror, and hatred.
Huxley is basically extrapolating from his own era in the 1920s, where the end of a terrible war and an abundance of wealth led to an era of thrill-seeking. Instead of ruling through fear, the Powers That Be in Brave New World govern through pleasure. Instead of indoctrination and patriotic rallies, the System uses slogans and jingles that have been conditioned into everyone since birth through sleep-learning. Instead of repressing pleasure and thought, the System encourages a wholesale hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, which renders any kind of higher thought pointless.
We get a Shakespeare-reciting Native American named John who is transported to this “advanced” civilization, whose old-fashioned views of austerity and suffering as good for the soul run counter to this all-about-the-flesh society. Everyone is conditioned to accept what they’re given, and only John can comprehend the utter horror of a world where peace and pleasure reign while free will and freethinking are extinct.
This is why I find Brave New World so terrifying: because it is entirely possible within our own society. Within any sufficiently industrialized nation. All it requires is a lack of concern for human dignity, for us to forget the needs of the soul and the mind, for our greed and fear to overcome our courage and reason.
Bibliography: Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1932.