How essential is the setting to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?
It is hard to see how this story could have a different setting. So much of this text concerns the themes of a dystopia, or a future world in which everything appears to be so much better and all the problems of humanity have been solved. This of course therefore necessitates that its setting be in the futue in a "new" kind of world that bears so little resemblance to our own. It is only by having such a setting that the contrast between this future world and our own world with its many imperfections can be fully explored. Of course, the point of Huxley's text is that, whilst the eradication of disease, sadness and war might have been achieved in this world, it has only been achieved at the cost of something that is so much more valuable and precious: human freedom and emotions.
I therefore can't think of another setting that could have been used for this theme to be fully developed. A change of setting would have fundamentally changed the text and made it into something that it was not meant to be. With any dystopian text, the issue that is under the microscope is the contrast between a future world and our own present world and the glaring differences between these two settings.
The scene takes place in London since Chapter one begins with the following words: "... Central London hatchery and Conditioning centre...the World's motto, community, identity, stability."
Huxley was English and lived in England when the novel was published in the early thirties, just after the major economic crisis began in America. He only left England for the states in 1937. When, later, he asked to become an American citizen, the American authorities refused to grant Huxley citizenship. They considered he was a drug-addict because of his experiments with mescaline.
Central london, at the time, in any case still represented modernity, politics and business. Brave New World was the future world as the English novelist dreaded (or wished?) it would be like. Still, the fact that he was interested in Hollywood when he left England and his desire to become an American citizen after the war, during the Cold War, suggest that prewar London might be analogous to postwar New York, the American capital.