Welcome along to our forty-fifth audio adventure in our series Tales for Our Time. As I mention in my introduction, this one has been requested on and off over the years, and I resisted. But cometh the hour, cometh the dystopian novel.
George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1948, when the Soviets had gobbled up half of Europe and were eager for more. He pushed his world just a little further ahead - to the day after tomorrow, thirty-six years in the future. Given the previous thirty-six years (two wars separated by a depresssion, Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism and nukes), his anxieties were understandable. Happily, the real 1984 did not live up to its advance publicity. We are now another thirty-six years on, and the things that fretted the world back then - Thatcher, Reagan, nuclear armageddon - seem almost benign compared to what afflicts us in 2021, as Dorsey and Zuckerberg and the other woke billionaires erect the prison bars before our very eyes.
Orwell foresaw that and much more: It is the rich and plausible social detail of the future he conjured that makes it such a gripping tale to this day, and one with many lessons to impart. To hear the first part of Nineteen Eighty-Four, prefaced by my own introduction, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
As many of you are aware, Kathy Shaidle, a beautiful contrarian spirit and our brilliant film essayist, died just before dawn yesterday morning. Over in our movie department, I quoted her throwaway aside on the metric system:
Same with the other new thing: metric, which is (not coincidentally I'm sure) also French. I only passed years of mandatory French classes by a nose, and to this day refuse to use Celsius and kilometers.
Kathy would relish the careless yet ingenious way Orwell's opening sentence establishes the totalitarian transformation of society.
I think you'll enjoy this audio serialization of a contemporary classic, but, if ten months of lockdown, looting and 'lections have left you pining for lighter fare, we have plenty of cheerier escapist yarns, including Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, and P G Wodehouse's Psmith, Journalist - oh, and a certain other fellow's The Prisoner of Windsor. Tales for Our Time in all its variety is a welcome detox from the madness of the hour: three-and-a-half years' worth of my audio adaptations of classic fiction starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's cracking tale of an early conflict between jihadists and westerners in The Tragedy of the Korosko. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over three years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures by Dickens, Conrad, Kafka, Gogol, H G Wells, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson - plus a couple of pieces of non-classic fiction by yours truly. You can find them all here. We're very pleased by the response to our Tales - and we even do them live on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming such ventures are ever again permitted, and sometimes with special guests.
I'm truly thrilled that one of the most popular of our Steyn Club extras these last three years has been our nightly radio serials. If you've enjoyed them and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly, such as Friday's;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Booking for special members-only events, such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, assuming such events are ever again lawful;
~Priority booking for the next Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming we're ever again allowed to hold such a thing;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, assuming "live appearances" become a thing once more;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to Nineteen Eighteen-Four but to all the other yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if my audio realization of Orwell sounds to you like a boot stamping on a human face forever, feel free to have at it. And do join us tomorrow for Part Two of Nineteen Eighty-Four.