Volume 30, Number 1, Fall 2011

2011 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner - Animal Farm

Animal Farm has been described as “a dystopian allegorical novella” and few would disagree with that description. However, for our purposes today, let us consider some particular aspects of the work.

This 1946 novella by George Orwell is a work that is well within the scope of SF; that is Science Fiction, Fantasy and related fields. Consider that the first UK edition had the subtitle “A Fairy Story” although this subtitle was dropped in most later editions. And whether Animal Farm is shelved and/or listed in SF or in general fiction, it is most certainly SF.

As a work of libertarian SF, Animal Farm excels in a number of areas. It is explicitly anti-totalitarian, it has powerful imagery and it has stayed in the public mind for many decades.

The anti-totalitarian nature of Animal Farm is well known but we are far enough removed in time from the 1930s and 1940s that it is worth reminding ourselves that Animal Farm is also implicitly critical of the regime of Joseph Stalin in the USSR. Consider the Stalinist era practice of persons being removed from photographs and contrast that with the changes over time that occurred with The Seven Commandments which were painted on the big barn at the farm. Orwell was masterful in showing how changes over time can be made until the Seven Commandments had gradually been reduced to one: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS In the novella the changes were made without notice by the pigs and the other animals either did not perceive that there had been changes or did not create a challenge. This lesson of maintaining transparency and openness in legal systems and of not letting the historical record be whitewashed is well worth remembering.

Many phrases from Animal Farm have entered into common usage in the 65 years since publication. The powerful imagery of the book is accessible to readers at many levels and thus is an excellent choice for young adult readers. This is why many readers first encounter the work as students.

Animal Farm is often included in the lists of the best English language novels of the 20th-Century. And in 1996, at L.A. Con III, a Retrospective Hugo for Best Novella was awarded to Animal Farm.

This Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame award plaque will be shipped to The Orwell Society in the UK.

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