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Huxley, Julian

Entry updated 2 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1887-1975) UK biologist, journalist and author, elder brother of Aldous Huxley, in active service during World War One. His first work of sf interest, "Philosophic Ants: A Biologic Fantasy" (read May 1922 to the Heretics Club, Cambridge; 1922 Cornhill Magazine), though constructed as an essay, intriguingly speculates on ants' radical non-mammalian Perception of the world, and how their world-view might differ through these profound differences in sensory apparatus. He wrote very little fiction as such, one exception being "The Tissue-Culture King: A Biological Fantasy" (April 1926 Cornhill Magazine), a novelette set in a Lost World whose natives have been experimented upon by something like a Mad Scientist, who uses something like Genetic Engineering to transform them into giant Monsters; a second scientist creates a "will battery" to control the natives' Psi Powers.

Huxley early became well known for his eloquent presentation of the theory of Evolution, following his grandfather Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) in this. His coincident advocacy of what he called "transhumanism" through science-based command over evolution has worn less well (see Eugenics comments below), its upliftingness perhaps fuelled by the origin before World War One of the term "Creative Evolution" in the works of Henri Bergson (1859-1941). Certainly What Dare I Think?: The Challenge of Modern Science to Human Action and Belief (1931) now seems a naive contribution to the fraternal debate about the control of the future waged between him and Aldous, whose Brave New World (1932) radically undermines the earlier book. Huxley continues the argument in If I Were Dictator (1934; exp 1934), a speculative text (see Futures Studies) in which he describes the Utopia he would mandate: a planned society through the ordinances of which a rational world is able to maintain itself. Religions are permitted; Sex reforms have led to relaxed interpersonal behaviour, and happy families. Though he had early been influenced by the work of Francis Galton, the implications of Eugenics are here muted. But Huxley did continue to espouse a "humane" form of eugenics before World War Two, publishing some relatively moderate essays in Eugenics Journal; in The Uniqueness of Man (1941) he suggests, however, that eugenics would "become part of the religion of the future" and that "true negroes have a slightly lower than average intelligence than the whites or yellows." After the war, as a founder and first Director-General of UNESCO (1946-1948), and as a revered public guru in Britain, Huxley eschewed (and quite likely evolved away from) a pattern of thought where eugenics and racism might tacitly cohabit (see again Evolution; Race in SF). Huxley was knighted in 1958. [JC]

Sir Julian Sorell Huxley

born London: 22 June 1887

died London: 14 February 1975

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