Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella that takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated.
Collectivism — the political philosophy holding that an individual exists solely to serve the state — is dominant and has led to the establishment of a global dictatorship of the Fascist or Communist variety.
Equality 7-2521 is a Street Sweeper of the city, having been chosen for this profession by the Council of Vocations. However, he has always been fascinated by the phenomena of nature and can’t help but wonder what power of the sky causes lightning and how it can be harnessed to human benefit. Because of his fascination with the Science of Things, he secretly desires to be sent to the Home of the Scholars. He has been taught that it is a sin to harbor secret ambitions, and so believes he is guilty, though strangely, he feels no pangs of wrongdoing.
One day while sweeping the streets, Equality 7-2521 comes upon a metal grill leading down into a dark tunnel. The tunnel is clearly a remnant of the Unmentionable Times, the ancient period prior to the establishment of the present society. Equality 7-2521 sneaks to the tunnel alone every night, where safe from others beneath the ground he secretly performs scientific experiments.