We all know the classic line from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

As much as we might want, and strive for, a wholly equal world, it is an unlikely reality for humans. We are too flawed, too greedy, too competitive, too selfish. Speculative fiction has certainly suggested that a society working towards equality will eventually devolve into a troubled dystopian state. But is this really an inevitability?

In Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s debut novel, The Ten Percent Thief, she creates a society that defines itself as a ‘meritocratic technocracy’ that is free from discrimination… while creating inequalities everywhere.

We are pleased to be joined by Lavanya in this episode to discuss meritocracy and the myth of a fair society.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Dispossessed and The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Becky Chambers
  • Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Star Trek

Lavanya Lakshminarayan is the author of The Ten Percent Thief and Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future. She is a Locus Award finalist and is the first science fiction writer to win the Times of India AutHer Award and the Valley of Words Award, both prestigious literary awards in India, and her work has been longlisted for a BSFA Award.

She’s occasionally a game designer, and has built worlds for Zynga Inc.’s FarmVille franchise, Mafia Wars, and other games. She lives in India, and is currently working on her next novel.