Originally Posted by Hamlet53
...An additional complaint is how hokey and derivative many of the tales were. That tale of Luisa read like a mash up of film scripts from the 1970s for which the central theme was the “system” is controlled by powerful evil men out to do the public harm. In this case it was a blend of Three Days of the Condor and The China Syndrome. That and the typical cliches were all there. Idealistic young reporter is suddenly thrust into the middle of a story fraught with personal danger, and only her bravery and dedication can save the world. Of course there is the burnt out mentor who has lost his moral compass, but in the end will be pricked by his conscience and save the day at the cost of his life. And as far as the Tale of Sonmi 451, someone obviously read A Brave New World and was impressed. Other tales just seemed pointless; e.g. Timothy Cavendish and Robert Frobisher...
I noticed this too and I think that was the point - that the tales were meant to be stylistically and even plot-wise derivative.
I think the first tale is derivative of certain diaries whether real or fictional from the 1700s and 1800s. What came to my mind was Robinson Crusoe, though I'm sure there's others closer.
I think the second tale is derivative of such as Fitzgerald, set in a similar time period and in a similar milieu.
The third reminded me of those 70s film thrillers such as The Medusa Touch. I'm sure there's been better examples such as you mentioned, but I don't know if I've ever read a 70s nuclear/spy/apocalyptic thriller.
The fourth of course reminded me of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest which the book itself even mentioned with the nurse.
The fifth reminded me of Soylent Green though your comparison to Brave New World is good and may be better.
The sixth was the trickiest, but I actually think he went back in time for it and based it on earlier U.S. writings such as Mark Twain.
I know there are others more well read than I who may think of more apt comparisons.
So the question for me is how successful was he with the derivations and how well did he create them in a new way and how well they all fit together.
I think he was ambitious and I like that, and I think he did a great job of changing styles between sections and capturing the styles. I do think though that sometimes he let the story and style get away from himself. When one is, say, purposely trying to copy the style of a 70s pulp thriller yet also imbue it with literary qualities and tie it cohesively and thematically into the ambitious whole, it's a very fine and difficult edge to walk on and I think sometimes he slips onto the side of it just being a silly 70s pulp thriller story at moments. This is true of the different sections in different degrees.
But he never lets it get completely away from himself and always comes back to form, in my opinion. I think he's a talented writer. His ambition may have somewhat exceeded his talent here, but his talent still kept the thing together and it all worked for me in the end.