'As a teenager, my library borrowing consisted of scientific books and escapist novels. So, I was the type of science student the University of Surrey envisaged when they designed the mandatory Literature and Ethics course. I was obliged to read a dozen books - not the brief cultural sheep-dip I had been led to expect. The book that shook me was Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, written in 1932.
I had a view that science was a force for good. I hadn't thought about a future in which science controls all, where human cloning and conditioning are used to create a totalitarian society. Huxley illuminates many of the arguments about science, liberty and religion which have preoccupied succeeding generations. All these dilemmas are laid bare in easy-to-understand prose. Also, I enjoy Bernard Marx - a prototypical positive deviant.
The book catalysed interests which remain strong today.
I am still an avid reader of books which reflect upon the human condition and science.
I re-read the book from time to time and am stimulated to reconsider old prejudices.'
David Varney is chief executive of BG.