The Giver

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Not completely in the realm of science fiction, the giver is an interesting case. While revolving around a futuristic society the book focuses primarily on futuristic family structures and social interactions – and not really on how the residents enjoy the new technologies of the future. However easy it is to classify this book as “dystopian”, some very interesting moral and scientific implications are discussed.

The main underlying theme of “sameness”, a completely in-disparate society, has opened up a slew of questions. The author showcases this explicitly here – The Giver states to Jonas: “Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back.”

In continuation he states “We relinquished colour when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.” It seems that this dystopian society played on a version of genetic tampering to create uniform colour blindness. The gene for colour lies on the X chromosome and a recessive copy can cause any one of the types of colour blindness – with red/green being the most common. This is a commonly used colour blindness test –

This book also discussed euthanasia quite seriously, which is the process of intentionally ending a life in order to prevent pain and suffering. In Jonas’s dystopian society, infants who develop at abnormal rates, the exceptionally elderly, non-conforming individuals are “released,”or euthanised, supposedly for their own benefit. It is treated as a normal part of society and is substantiated by this particular quote from the book – “It’s what he was told to do, and he knows nothing else.” This reiterates the lack of moral decision making in the book but also implicitly condones the practice. Currently, it is medically very possible to euthanise or provide assisted suicide to a person but the extent to which it is available remains a legal controversy. Read more about it here –

Another interesting aspect of the book is the ability of this one person – the giver to hold an entire societies memories and transfer them at will. “I am going to transmit the memory of snow,” the old man said, and placed his hands on Jonas’s bare back. I don’t really understand how this is currently and even in the future, biologically possible but the closest equivalent would be the invention of Neuralink. This is company owned by Elon Musk that wants to physically connect humans to each other and computers by the usage of brain chips. This is where that piece of tech is right now –

All in all the Giver is a fairly interesting book that focuses on a different aspect of science and society that main stream SciFi books. It is worth a read just to see how a society that puts prime functioning capacity over everything, including basic human emotions, such as happiness and anger would function.

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